By Taylor Short
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE – Coryell County commissioners approved a contract with an engineer Monday to survey areas of Mound that have seen major increases in the proposed floodplain map in hopes of appealing and regaining property value.
The proposed Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain map, approved by the commissioners during a meeting Jan. 11, shows a wide swath of areas designated "Zone A," or special flood hazard zones, along Leon River in Mound that runs along the Fort Hood and Coryell counties line and passes under Farm-to-Market 1829.
The county announced Jan. 11 that property owners could purchase insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program before the Feb. 17 effective date to receive a rate based on the old map.
Many residents missed the appeal period in early 2009 leading to complaints from the public about the map.
Commissioners requested an extended effective date but despite the outcry, County Judge John Firth said FEMA promised to amend the maps within 30 days only if the county can provide evidence that the map is inaccurate.
"We believe that with that survey data, signed by a certified surveyor, along with statements from all of you that your homes have never flooded, that we can hopefully get them to amend their digital map," Firth told Mound residents Monday.
Surveyors with Walker, Wiederhold & Associates of Killeen plan to assess the area, collecting data to show whether floodwaters would actually threaten property near the river to the extent the proposed map suggests.
"FEMA has never come to Coryell County, they've never been to Mound," Firth said. "They don't know Mound from any place else in Coryell County other than a map they're looking at."
The county agreed to pay no more than $5,000 for the survey services, according to the contract.
If the data shows that FEMA's map is correct, Firth said a more detailed alternative of getting a hydrology study of the area might be necessary.
The court also reviewed the 2010 county budget with about $7.47 million left in the general fund from a starting balance of about $11.28 million.
Firth said the county has had issues this fiscal year with lower property values and sales tax revenues, but is in fair shape, with the 2010 budget at a 33.8 percent balance at about one-third through the year, or about $170,000 over budget.
"The good news in this is that we've front-loaded a number of things that when you back them out, makes this look better."
The county purchased new vehicles for the sheriff's department, allocated $100,000 for ambulance services and donations up-front and would not affect the budget through the rest of the fiscal year.
Contact Taylor Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcove.