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

City Hall confident on buyout money; but when it arrives, the legal hurdles will take a few to many months to jump, city reminds people

In CDBG, FEMA, local-option sales tax on July 1, 2009 at 11:01 am

News elsewhere in Iowa of small-sized buyouts of flood-damaged homes does not mean that the first round of buyouts in Cedar Rapids using funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is not on track, Jennifer Pratt, the city’s development coordinator says.

Pratt on Wednesday said the city still expects to hear in August from FEMA on funds to buy out 167 properties closest to the Cedar River to make way for a riverside “greenway.”

The city intends to buy out ten times as many properties as the 167 in the greenway — 554 in a construction area needed to build a flood-protection system; and about 600 considered “beyond reasonable repair” that sit outside the greenway and construction area. The city will use federal Community Development Block Grant funds and revenue from the city’s local-option sales tax for those purchases. And every expectation is that there will be sufficient money to do the job, the city has said and Pratt repeated on Wednesday.

“It’s been so nerve-wracking getting to this point,” she said. “We just hope everything works out smoothly.”

Having said that, Pratt made clear a central point that she said those awaiting buyouts have been told and need to remember: No buyout check is going to show up in the mail quickly in any event.

Pratt said every buyout amounts to a “legal land transaction,” which can be slowed down by title problems and other legal issues.

In the best circumstances, she said it will take 60 to 90 days to get any property’s legal documentation in place before the buyout actually takes place once money arrives.

In worst cases, the entire process could take nine months, she said.

Included in the paperwork transaction is the need for each purchase to appear in front of the City Council on two separate occasions, Pratt said.

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  1. You’d think that after having made these people wait all this time,they could get the process through faster.I know there is alot of red tape to go through,but in a situation like this why
    can’t they cut through some of it.The way it looks,our new Mayor and council members,who will be up for election.will be ironing
    all of this out.

  2. Property Acquisition (Voluntary Buyouts): Information for Homeowners can be found at http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/mitmeasures/buyouts.shtm. This is a two page document that answers a lot of questions.

  3. City won’t try to speed things up because they hope these people get forclosed on before their “buy out”. they could make it faster but they won’t. Another situation where they don’t care about the people of CR. I hope the people will remember this when they vote in November. TIME FOR A CHANGE! CULTURE OF DELAY HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH!

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