CR Council Turns Attention to Flood Funding Gap

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG TV9)- With a federal commitment of $117-million dollars to help build permanent flood protection in Cedar Rapids, city leaders are now turning to a new issue. That’s how to find the final dollars for the project.

A look at the yet to be budgeted NewBo Levee, which would link up with the recently completed Sinclair Levee to continue flood protection for the higher portions of the NewBo district. (Courtesy: City of Cedar Rapids)

The next step, on Monday, was a joint meeting of two city council committees that work on flooding-related issues. There’s no firm plan yet, but several city council members indicated such a plan could materialize in the next couple of months.

Counting the new federal flooding commitment, the city probably needs to find another $200-million dollars plus to complete flood protection.

Council member Tyler Olson says many on the council are probably leaning to a bond issue to finance construction.

“I think it matches up well with the length of the project as well as how long that infrastructure will last and the community will come together over a number of years to make that investment,” Olson said.

Other council members indicated the city could also go to voters to ask for an extension of the current one cent local option sales tax.

That money, about $17-million dollars per year, now is directed to street repair and improvement. That 10-year commitment approved by voters has about six years to run.

Voters could extend the current tax for additional years to fund flood work.

Council members at the joint session also heard from participants that the priority now should be speeding up the construction process.

City leaders have estimated the entire flood control system might require about $550-million in today’s dollars.

Stretching construction as long as 20 years could up the cost to $750-million.