On Sept. 26, 2017, The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved Chairman Wayne Dukes to sign an agreement in association with a federal Housing and Urban Development Grant. The grant is specifically for the repair or demolition of owner occupied single family housing benefitting low to moderate income individuals. One of the conditions of the grant is that any property owner who applies for the grant funding must carry flood insurance if their property is located within a floodplain.
Veda Ramirez, Health and Human Services manager, clarified that item before the board is to pre-approve a process, not the individual applicants at the moment. Each applicant would need to come before the board separately for board approval of funding.
“Also it acknowledges for the board, the serious federal and state rules have got to be applied if this process goes forward,” said Attorney Garth Coller. The funding agreement contains 47 pages of regulations the county must adhere to while participating in the program.
“The only choice they leave you, is do you want the money or not,” said County Attorney Garth Coller, “If you want the money, you got to do it this way.”
Charles Greenwell of Hernando Beach expressed concern over the lack of questions being asked.
He stated, “How much money are we getting with this program?”
“The documentation I’ve seen is that it’s $750,000. That’s peanuts when you’re giving up your freedom of choice. The choice of whether or not to purchase insurance for instance.”
“What if the cost of insurance exceeds the benefit of the new roof or the new windows,” he asked.
“If that’s the case you wouldn’t apply for it anyway,” said Dukes.
“Are you saying today on the record, that the board understands that this program and the funding provided only applies where people ask for it and that only people who ask for it will be required to purchase flood insurance?”
The response was in the affirmative.
“Does this in anyway mandate private property to have flood insurance…?” Asked Commissioner Champion.
“No- it only applies to applicants,” said Deputy County Attorney Jon Jouben.
“If you get the money and you’re in the floodplain, to receive the money, just like a mortgage in the floodplain, they require you to have flood insurance,” Jouben explained.
“I think that’s reasonable,” said Champion.
The board unanimously approved the environmental review and the Chairman’s signature on grant documents.