County: flood money now available
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Homeowners tired of dealing with flood after flood in Sullivan County may be able to unload their properties at pre-flood market values, said county officials on Thursday.
Sullivan County Grants Supervisor Joe Czajka and Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic told legislators during the Government Services Committee meeting that the county is in line to receive the most state money for the Greater Catskills Flood Remediation Program $3.75 million.
That’s significantly higher than the amounts made available for any of the 10 other counties in the program, but it will only be doled out as needed.
In other words, Czajka is feverishly trying to secure applicants, as the local window for inclusion in the program closes at the end of this month. Already, two dozen homeowners are interested, he said.
Legislators were asked on Thursday to approve the county’s participation in the program and the hiring of an appraisal service, both of which passed unanimously.
What is the program?
The Greater Catskills Flood Remediation Program is based on a simple premise: people who have been flooded out of their homes may want to sell and move, but the low market value of such properties can stop them in their tracks.
So with state reimbursement, the 11 involved counties are now able to purchase those properties at their market value before the flooding happened, restoring the homeowner’s investment and adding to the county’s array of open spaces.
Interested and eligible homeowners have to first contact the county by calling 794-3000, ext. 3140. (To see who’s eligible, take a look at the next section below.)
If the property and owner are accepted into the program, the county will then send out an appraiser to conduct a “forensic appraisal” a way of determining the parcel’s value prior to the flood(s).
The county will then make an offer at that pre-flood market value (up to a maximum amount of $250,000). If accepted by the homeowner, a standard real estate transaction will follow.
The program requires that all liens and encumbrances be released upon the sale, and the property will be deed-restricted so as to remain forever wild. The specific language says the parcel must remain open space or wetlands, or it must be used for flood mitigation or recreation.
To reach that goal, any on-site structures will be demolished and debris removed. Afterwards, the county will be free to sell the property to anyone, though the deed restrictions will stay in place.
It’s a question of both the person and the property.
The owner’s primary residence a one- or two-family home must be on the parcel of land in question. That property must have been flooded out at least once since 2004 and is likely to be flooded out again.
Preference will be given to those properties that are worth less than $150,000 and have been flooded twice or more.
Homeowners cannot have a family income higher than $60,270 if they live alone, or $86,100 in a family of four (in other words, no more than 150 percent of the federally-designated median annual family income in this area).