Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 24, 2017

Two years or more for preferred risk policy

By Mary Zielinski | Dec 04, 2012

KALONA — Initially facing a Jan. 16 deadline for residents to obtain flood insurance at preferred risk policy prices, Kalona officials learned Tuesday it could instead be more than two years.
“We just learned a few minutes ago,” said City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh, that the rate will apply “if the policy is written prior to the grandfathering.” And, he noted, there is an extension of that, “but we don’t know yet what it is.”
Except it is good news, better than what was discussed at Monday’s council meeting, when Schlabaugh said Kalona would try to get a 90-day extension on the Jan. 16 deadline.
The issue involves the floodplain designations in the new, finalized Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps and the mandated National Floodplain Insurance for any property owner with a federally backed mortgage.
The much longer period will allow insurers time to “become comfortable” with the writing of flood insurance policies.  In Kalona, Schlabaugh noted, it appeared there would two insurers facing writing policies for 300 parcels by Jan. 16, a virtually impossible task.
Obtaining the policies prior to actual mandatory requirements gives those in a Zone A (highest risk) floodplain the preferred rate for a Zone C (far lower risk), “which is great savings,” said Schlabaugh.
During the council meeting, he explained that insurers have to learn how to write the policies and Mayor Ken Herington urged that residents “talk with their insurers about this.”
The move by Kalona to join the National Floodplain Insurance Program, the result of repeated urgings by two Kalona residents, has been an involved process, “one that has not been smooth,” said Schlabaugh. Not the least of which was the FEMA mapping that first put half of Kalona in a floodplain.  The city sought assistance from the Iowa Flood Center regarding the mapping that lowered the affected property from approximately 50 to 34 percent.  Those without a federally backed mortgage do not face the mandate, but local realtors said a floodplain designation will impact property values, and have suggested seeking flood insurance.
In other business Monday, the council:
• learned the city’s plan to create  a compost area was accepted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which will assist with the project;
• discussed a possible no open burning ordinance, including reviewing what comparable cities have enacted from specified leaf burning periods to no burning at all.  Action was deferred pending further information and public comment;
• learned Kalona was awarded at least one Washington County Riverboat Foundation grant to be given Dec. 5; and;
• authorized Schlabaugh to proceed with obtaining a plan, process and cost for the polymer lining of the sanitary sewer system.  The lining is part of a an initial five-year plan originally estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

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