October 28, 2011
Flood Mitigation Capital Improvement Program Update
At the Board’s October 18 meeting, some Board members requested that the Storm Water “Rainy Day” fund be discussed at a future Board Public Workshop. We are scheduling that workshop for February or March, 2012, consistent with the process and timetable already underway that is considering revisions to the Flood Mitigation Capital Improvement Program. This process involves obtaining input from a 13-member citizen review committee, the Storm Water Advisory Committee as well as review and recommendations from the Board’s Natural Resource Committee. This process will culminate in the Board workshop as noted above.
This process of evaluating options to re-tool the Flood Mitigation Capital Improvement Program was already underway prior to the August 5, 2011 floods. Storm water staff had recognized that nearly all of the flood-prone homes and businesses that are eligible for acquisition using federal funding had been acquired. Since floodplain buyouts have been the primary technique to reduce flood damage over the past 12 years, new tools must be considered and evaluated. This prompted staff, the Storm Water Advisory Committee and a 13-member citizens review committee to review a Flood Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction Plan as the foundation for a re-tooled Flood Mitigation Capital Program.
A component of the Flood Mitigation Program is a flood-specific “Quick Buy” program, which the Board approved on September 7, 2011 in response to the August flood. As part of this approval, the Board requested its Natural Resources Committee (NRC) to review the Floodplain Buyout Program in light of recent public comments. Staff made its first presentation to the NRC on October 4, 2011, focusing on the background of the Floodplain Buyout Program (including the Quick Buy). This presentation laid out the need for changes in the Flood Mitigation Program, the schedule for developing and proposing changes, and the financial impact of the proposed changes on Storm Water Services’ Capital Improvement and Quick Buy Programs. The NRC’s review will continue in subsequent meetings, with the review process anticipated to conclude in January or February next year. Following the NRC’s detailed review, staff will provide a high-level overview of proposed program changes at a Public Policy workshop in February or March, 2012.
This approach and schedule has several benefits. It allows the NRC to complete the more detailed review it started (consistent with the September 7 Board request). It also allows the Public Policy Workshop session(s) to focus on proposed changes to the Flood Mitigation Program in the context of how these changes may impact Storm Water Services’ FY13 Operating, Capital and Rainy Day budgets.
In addition to this strategic review, storm water staff also is revising its letter to property owners contacted about Quick Buy eligibility to make it clear that receipt of the letter does not necessarily mean they have qualified for the Quick Buy.
Board members with questions should contact Dave Canaan at Dave.Canaan@MecklenburgCountyNC.Gov or 704- 336-3736.
Preparing for Board Meetings
In response to a recent trend of detailed questions about some Consent Agenda items, we are implementing a new step in our meeting preparation. Beginning with the next regular meeting of the Board (November 1, 2011), Assistant to the County Manager Amber Snowden will contact each Board member by email and telephone on the Monday prior to the Board meeting (or on Tuesday for a Wednesday meeting). Board members will be asked whether they have questions about any items on the agenda (Consent Agenda or otherwise) and what those questions are, so staff can be prepared to answer those questions in advance of or at the meeting. In addition, Board members will be asked to identify any Consent Items they intend to pull for questions or discussion, so staff can be prepared to answer the questions or provide information relevant to the discussion.
This step does not preclude a Board member from pulling a Consent Agenda item not previously mentioned to Ms. Snowden or opting not to pull an item they previously intended to pull.
Typically, we do not expect staff members who are subject matter experts for each Consent Agenda item to attend the Board meetings because these items usually are perfunctory, self-explanatory or can be addressed by the senior staff regularly attending the meetings. This new step will further minimize instances when staff is unable to respond to questions that arise at the meeting, to increase the efficiency of meetings.
Board members with questions on this matter should contact General Manager John McGillicuddy via email at John.McGillicuddy@MecklenburgCountyNC.Gov or 704-336-2661.
-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager