DES MOINES | Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett thumped his knee Wednesday each time a member of the Iowa Flood Mitigation Board voted in favor of his city's request for $264 million in state funds to help build a flood protection system.
City Manager Jeff Pomeranz and council members Ann Poe and Justin Shields sat next to Corbett in the Statehouse, erupting in joy as the tally became official.
"Good job,” Poe said to Corbett, a former speaker of the Iowa House.
Corbett helped conceptualize the state sales tax funding mechanism for communities that need flood protection. The Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad signed off on the plan in 2012.
"For those of us who love Cedar Rapids, today we can now protect her,” Poe said after the meeting adjourned. "And this will last for generations to come. It’s monumental and historic.”
The board also approved flood protection funding requests for Waverly, Iowa City, Coralville, Dubuque and Storm Lake. Dubuque’s was the second largest at $98.5 million. Like Cedar Rapids, the money will be spread over 20 years.
Waverly's application for $5.65 million will fund the second phase of flood mitigation projects on the Dry Run Creek channel. The goal is to provide protection to flooding levels the city experienced in 2008 and 1999.
The funds awarded will be generated by a portion of the incremental growth in state sales tax collected in each city.
According to Cedar Rapids officials, the $264 million will cover 46 percent of the cost for flood protection. The total $570 million figure will pay for protection on both sides of the Cedar River, a plan that includes:
- $117 million in federal funds the city already received for buyouts and other mitigation efforts.
- $78 million in expected funds from Congress to help build flood protection on the east side of the Cedar River.
- $110 million in available city funds.
In total, the Flood Mitigation Board on Wednesday awarded $390 million in state funds, about 65 percent of the amount available.
Officials in Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs and Des Moines also are considering applying for state funds.