August 31, 2011 Edition

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New tax may be required
to make repairs to levee

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Lawrence and Randolph County officials are seeking a solution to fund repairs to the Running Water Levee, which was breached during spring flooding.

FEMA has denied funding for the repairs because the Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over the levee. The Corps has denied responsibility because the levee has been out of compliance for a number of years.

An estimated $1.2 million is needed to make repairs to the levee, which protects 65,000 acres in Lawrence and Randolph counties that lie in the Black River flood plane.

In December of 2010 a 50 cents per acre flat tax was instituted to begin in 2011 for all landowners in the Running Water Levee District. This was intended to help with maintenance costs.

In April of this year extensive flooding occurred when at least 13 separate breaches in the levee poured flood waters onto cropland, roadways and communities in both counties.

Approval is now being sought to add an additional flat tax of $3.40 per acre to be collected annually from those in the district and to approve a loan not to exceed $1.2 million dollars.

"FEMA has said we don't qualify and the Corps of Engineers say they can't help us either," said Lawrence County Judge Dale Freeman.

Freeman said he had been meeting with commissioners Don Cox, Danny Ellis and Andrew Jones two or three times a week. "We are looking for revenue to do the work needed," he said. "We've been working legislators in Washington trying to get help."

Spring flooding is already on the minds of the commissioners. If money is not found for the needed repairs soon a repeat of the April and May flooding could happen again in 2012.

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