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Published May 05, 2009, 12:00 AM

Cass County moves ahead with buyout plan

Cass County commissioners decided Monday to go ahead with a plan to provide the local share of buyouts to help mitigate against future flood damage in rural areas.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

Cass County commissioners decided Monday to go ahead with a plan to provide the local share of buyouts to help mitigate against future flood damage in rural areas.

The 3-1 decision means the county agrees to provide the 15 percent local share if other funding sources can’t be found for buyouts now estimated to total $33 million.

That figure applies to a list, still preliminary, of about 160 flood-prone properties, including an estimated 130 to 140 homes, considered candidates for a voluntary buyout.

County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said the total buyout cost of properties now on the list could be more like $50 million, counting demolition, appraisal, legal and other costs.

That would mean the county’s share could be as much as $7.5 million, he said, but he believes the actual total will be much less.

Commissioners also approved a plan to seek federal funds from several grant programs to help with the local share of flood buyouts.

Montplaisir said some properties might not be eligible for buyouts and in other cases owners may decide not to participate.

Still, he said, the county must find a way to pay its share. That likely would be a special property tax levy that would be in effect for several years.

“We don’t have the 15 percent in the bank right now,” Montplaisir said.

In approving the actions, commissioners did not decide how the county will pay its share of buyouts.

The federal government share will be 75 percent and the state 10 percent.

“At some point you have to balance the need with the dollars you have to go with it,” said Commissioner Ken Pawluk, who approved obligating the county to pay the local share.

Also voting in favor of proceeding with county participation in buyouts were Commissioners Scott Wagner and Darrell Vanyo. Commissioner Vern Bennett voted against the move, and Commissioner Robyn Sorum was absent.

Letters will be sent to property owners on the preliminary buyout list. Applications for those who want to be on the list will be due May 15.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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