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Federal law will increase local flood insurance rates

Albany/Dougherty Planning Director Paul Forgey discusses a change in federal law that will impact local flood insurance during Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Albany/Dougherty Planning Director Paul Forgey discusses a change in federal law that will impact local flood insurance during Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — City/County Planning Director Paul Forgey offered an ominous warning to Dougherty County commissioners Monday morning, one that included homeowner flood insurance premiums rising from $1,000 annually to $10,000.

Noting that the National Flood Insurance Program, beset with significant claims in the aftermath of such natural disasters as Katrina and Sandy, is now operating at a deficit in excess of $25 billion, Forgey informed commissioners at their business session that new flood insurance rates implemented by the federal government went into affect Oct. 1. Forgey said those rates range from a 5 percent increase for many property owners located within the flood plain to “25 percent a year until the rate increases to full value” for others.

The latter scenario, Forgey said, could result in the extreme $1,000-to-$10,000 yearly increase.

“Under the current map, 19 percent of the city of Albany and 28 percent of Dougherty County is located within the flood plain,” Forgey said. “That’s 1,157 parcels in the county and 3,700 within the city. The federal government, in an effort to make up the National Flood Insurance Program deficit, has said that rates must more closely reflect costs to the program.”

Forgey said property owners could help mitigate the increases by obtaining an elevation certificate showing their property at a high enough elevation to offset its location within the flood plain or by raising the elevation of any structure on a property located within the flood plain.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission approved a special-purpose local-option sales tax allocation of $1,734,850 for software license and service, software and agency access agreements that will allow SunGard Public Sector Inc. to upgrade the city/county’s public safety information system. The Criminal Justice Information System upgrade will allow local public safety entities (911, Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit, Albany Police Department, Albany Fire Department, Dougherty District Attorney’s office, Dougherty EMS, Dougherty Police Department, Dougherty Sheriff’s Office, Dougherty Jail and the city/county Information Technology department) to gather and share information through one integrated system.

The various agencies had previously each utilized its own information system.

“We started working on this in 1999, and it was put on the SPLOST referendum on ‘02,” County Commission Chairmen Jeff Sinyard said. “This is a major, major move for law enforcement agencies in this community.”

District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone said the prolonged process may have been a blessing in disguise.

“This is one time where having to wait may have been a good thing,” Stone said. “Because we waited so long, our law enforcement folks are now getting a system that uses the latest technology.”

Also at the meeting, the commission OK’d an $18,500 contract for services with Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions and Services Inc. requested by the county Board of Tax Assessors; passed a resolution that will allow BFEL Indemnitor Inc. to install environmental wells in the county; and signed off on a lease agreement with the Southwest Georgia Association for Convalescent and Aging Persons Inc. for use of property located at 400 W. Highland Ave.