Editorial/Op

TaxPayer Dollars: “Mine and Thine”

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUE bWhose money did the flood study save?
    Explaining why I needed to take better care of his tools than I did my own, my Grandpaw explained “That’s the difference between mine and thine.”  The financial impact of the FEMA approval of the flood study of the Beaver Bayou watershed is an excellent example of “mine and thine” in taxpayer dollars.
The City of Central has built up a surplus of over $11 million hard-earned taxpayer dollars that can be spent in any way our elected officials decide.  This $11 million is taxpayer dollars that we each have given to the city, mostly in the form of sales taxes.  Now that the city has this money, let’s call it “Thine”.
    The ten thousand families in Central have savings of their own as well as paychecks every month.  Since these are taxpayer dollars that the taxpayers get to keep, let’s call this money “Mine.”  It is a rare thing when the government has the opportunity to spend some of “Thine” to save some of “Mine,” but that is what happened in the flood study approved last week by FEMA.
    After working with FEMA for over three years, the flood study ended up costing over $100,000 of “Thine,” the city’s $11 million surplus, but the result lessens or eliminates the flood insurance requirements for as many as 3,600 Central properties.  The final savings to the homeowner/taxpayers can only be estimated, but is likely to exceed $1 million per year, every year for years to come, and this money is real “Mine” money to families in Central.
    Fortunately, and sadly, Central’s elected officials have been holding off on a second flood study for over two years.  This was, and still is, another rare opportunity for the government to spend a little of “Thine” to save the taxpayers a large amount of “Mine.”
    A 2013 study identified another part of Central that should be analyzed for flood map changes with potentially large savings in flood insurance premiums for Central citizens.  This area includes a section of the Comite River, Blackwater Bayou, Draughans Creek, and Hubbs Bayou.  Council Member Moak requested $115,000 in 2014 to fund the full study of that area, but three city council members blocked the study because they were not confident that the first study would be approved.
    The fact is, Central was careful to use one of the leading experts in the state, one with extensive experience dealing with FEMA, to ensure that the first study would be accepted.  FEMA has a very detailed and documented process for approval of map changes, and map revisions that meet all of the rules are to be approved.
    Frankly, there is no good reason that this second study should not have been started two years ago.  This could have meant more flood insurance savings for more Central taxpayers a year or two from now instead of waiting another four years.
    So now our city council has a second rare opportunity to spend a few of the city’s surplus “Thine” dollars to save the taxpayers a bunch of “Mine” flood insurance dollars. So, especially for those of you on the “West End” of Central, ask a council member to fund this second flood study and spend a little of “Thine” to save a bunch of “Mine.”  That would be Good News for a Great City.

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