The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Archive for April 20th, 2009|Daily archive page

Gov. Culver calls out the TV cameras on Tuesday to sign bill that forgives Jumpstart housing loans in five years, instead of the current 10

In City Hall, Jumpstart on April 20, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Gov. Chet Culver is making a big deal about it.

His office on Monday announced that Culver would hold a public ceremony on Tuesday in Iowa City to sign a new law that benefit flood victims who have gotten Jumpstart housing assistance.

Until now, those receiving the assistance got it in the form of forgivable loans that took 10 years to forgive. The change in the law will make the loans forgivable in five years.

“Thousands of Iowans have benefitted from the state’s Jumpstart Iowa Housing Program since it was created last fall,” Culver said in a press release on Monday. “With this legislation, we are giving a little more help to these who have already suffered so much.”

Culver will sign the new legislation – passed unanimously by both the Iowa Senate and Iowa House – at Old Capitol in Iowa City on Tuesday afternoon. Culver will be using Old Capitol as his office for the day.

Last Friday, Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, announced that the Jumpstart housing matter had passed the legislature and was on the way to the governor’s office. Hogg was one of the bill’s proponents.

Two months ago, at a nighttime neighborhood meeting in the Time Check Neighborhood, flood victims spoke to city officials and Iowa lawmakers. On that night, shortening the period of the Jumpstart forgivable loans to five years was one of the requests. Neighbors noted that Jumpstart business loans were for five years, why couldn’t the housing loans be? they asked.

That night, City Manager Jim Prosser said City Hall would see what it could do. Hogg was on hand that night, too.

City Hall’s lobbyist, Larry Murphy, was among lobbyists pushing lawmakers in Des Moines to make the Jumpstart change.

City Hall readies to review flood-insurance proposals; Linn supervisors are as eager to get huge costs waived by state insurance commissioner

In City Hall, FEMA, Floods, Linn County government on April 20, 2009 at 9:02 am

Local government is going to turn to the Iowa Insurance Division for help in confronting giant insurance costs that are required in exchange for accepting giant payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fix flood-damaged city, county and school buildings.

Linn County Risk Manager Steve Estenson on Monday morning revealed potential annual insurance costs facing Linn County once it repairs and returns to the its courthouse and jail on May’s Island and to a few other county buildings flooded last June.

He put the first estimate of costs at about $600,000 a year, but a final total is not known other than it is not apt to be that high. That is, in part, because the county may not return to the Witwer Building downtown and it intends to move the flood-destroyed Options Building elsewhere. Even so, it will need to pay some flood insurance on the Options Building.

What the Linn supervisors were most interested in, though, was Estenson’s comment that the city, school district and county all are now planning to ask the state insurance commission for a waiver of some of the insurance costs. FEMA regulations permit such waivers, although they are not common.

The Cedar Rapids City Council said two weeks ago it was interested in exploring such a waiver.

The council is a step ahead of the supervisors. It already made a formal request for brokers to handle the city’s flood-insurance matters.

The council will be able to forgo much of the huge insurance costs this year because it will not be returning this year to City Hall, the library and Paramount Theatre, three city buildings flood-damaged in June 2008.