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Morris denied grant for study on flood plain

City sought cash to find if areas could be removed

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 7:00 a.m. CST

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Morris was denied a grant needed to obtain data on whether portions of the city should still be considered in a flood plain.

The city was in an agreement with North Central Illinois Council of Governments to apply for Illinois Disaster Recovery Program Grant funds for the city.

The federal funds for the grant were designated as disaster funds after Hurricane Ike in 2008. About $170 million was designated for Illinois and, of that, almost $17 million for planning, which can be used for studies to identify flood plains.

“We had $12,500 into the grant process and were looking for a $300,000 grant,” said Mayor Richard Kopczick after last week’s city council meeting.

It would have been for a physical engineering study looking at the potential for flooding throughout parts of the city.

On Friday, Kopczick said he was waiting for a call back from the North Central Illinois Council of Governments to see if the city should try to reapply.

Homeowners living in a flood plain, which is designated by Illinois Department of Natural Resources maps, have to carry flood insurance. Previously, some residents in these areas came to the council to discuss the possibility of being removed.

Being in the flood plains costs them hundreds of dollars annually for insurance in case they flood, although they have not flooded in more than 20 years.

If the city had received the grant and gone forward with the study, it would have looked at properties from the south side of Interstate 80 down to the Illinois River, covering most of the city that has not been studied through private funding by landowners.

Upon reviewing the data compiled, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have the final say on whether the areas are suitable to be removed from the flood plains or if they are susceptible to flooding.

ANNUAL AUDIT

In other business, City Auditor Bill Crawford presented the audit and it was approved unanimously by the city council, with five aldermen present.

“The city is still in a good financial state. Last year, I said you turned a corner. This year, I’m saying you’re on a steady path,” Crawford said.

The General Fund has seen an almost $1 million increase in its cash on hand part, due, in part, to $80,000 extra a month the city is receiving in taxes from a new business, said Crawford.

The Tax Increment Financing District Fund saw a total revenue increase with last year’s participation in the state matching program. The Water and Sewer Fund’s revenues stayed steady with its fees, but there is no other revenue since there has not been any new development.

But because the city never counted on new development fees, this fund has stayed in good shape, said Crawford.

He also pointed out that, since 2009, the assessed values have continued to fall in the area, decreasing the property taxes. From 2010 to 2011, it dropped 5 percent, the same from 2009 to 2010. Grom 2011 to 2012, it’s expected to decrease by 6 percent.

Crawford said that 6 percent in preliminary and could go down more.

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