By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., announced during Tuesday’s city council meeting that FEMA has approved a buyout program for properties that repeatedly flood.
While all of the specifics are unknown at this point, Pinero said he got word of the approval from FEMA late Tuesday afternoon. It is expected that the program will be administered either through the county or city.
Known criteria is scant, but what is known is the affected property will have to be compliant with the National Flood Insurance Policy and qualifying homeowners will receive only 75 percent of the fair market value of their home, the other 25 percent will have to be matched. Fair market value will be determined by a third party appraiser.
The amount of money available for the program is unknown and Pinero said he is unsure if the match will come from the city, county or the homeowner.
Also, anyone interested in signing up for the buyout program would have to have already applied with FEMA for disaster assistance after Hurricane Isaac, Pinero said. The mayor is concerned whether the program will be funded well enough to provide assistance to residents in this area, but said he expects to receive more information on the program by next week. Pinero said a meeting will be called once all of the details on the program are available.
Two properties that were on the agenda to be declared a public nuisance prompted some concern from a couple of council members about property values. Council members Wayne Gouguet and Larry Breland expressed concern about whether cleanup costs assessed by the city and added as liens on property taxes will exceed the value the property. If the lien exceeds the property value, that could lead to the lien never being paid. Gouguet asked City Manager Jim Luke if it is practical to cleanup a property in the city where that situation could occur.
Luke said he will look into the matter and get back to the council at a later date.
About 125 natural gas meters still need to be installed as part of the Automatic Meter Reading work, said Public Works Director Eric Morris. The holdup is due in part to the meter provider failing to deliver the required number of meters, prompting Morris to order the parts from another source in Lafayette, La., he said.
Morris said he hopes to receive the meters and have them installed by the end of November or December. Once installed, the gas meters will work similarly to the new water meters, allowing them to be read wirelessly by a laptop computer.
David Fred Smith, also known as the quilt man, showed off his award winning quilt to the council Tuesday night. He said it won best in Class A in a recent competition in Jackson and best overall in a recent Pearl River County competition. It includes embroidery work commemorating all of the states he has lived in, and would be for sale for $9,999, Smith said.
No executive session was held after Tuesday’s meeting. The next scheduled council meeting is at 5 p.m. Nov. 20, at city hall on Beech Street.