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Putnam County looking at flood mitigation costs

December 30, 2011

OTTAWA — Putnam County commissioners told Ottawa village officials they are not saying no to a request for help with funding for flood studies for the Blanchard River Flood mitigation. Instead, the commissioners said they need more time to research the funds available for assistance and the legality of giving money for this type of project.Members of the Ottawa flood mitigation steering committee met Friday or a second time with the commissioners to discuss assistance in funding for the mitigation study.During a Dec. 22 meeting, Ottawa officials requested to be reimbursed for 45 percent of mitigation expenses.The expenses Ottawa reported totaled $446,000 as of Dec. 20. This included the USACE studies, B&D Consultants, USGS flood warning system, the annual fee for the warning system and a National Weather Service fee.“We have to consider our dollars and that there are other watersheds in Putnam County,” Commissioner Vince Schroeder said. The commissioners also said they have to establish the proper mechanism to provide funding for this type of project. Schroeder said they have had discussion with the state auditor about providing funding for this type of cost-sharing.“We need more time,” Schroeder said. Council member Deb Bauer reminded the commissioners the flooding problem was also an issue of public safety and transportation for the county. Schroeder also reminded Ottawa officials the county has had ongoing expenses that contribute to flood mitigation. He said the county spent more than $400,000 since 2007 in funding that goes to the Blanchard River Watershed toward river cleanup, grass strips along the river, equipment and labor.Schroeder said that, without voter approval, the commissioners cannot provide direct funding to assist only one village.“We represent the entire county and all the watersheds in the county,” he told Ottawa officials. He said Hancock County and Findlay were able to provide funding this way since voter approved it.When pressed for a date when the commissioners could have a definitive answer, they said they did not know. “We'll call you in a few weeks or you can call us to see where we are on our research,” Schroeder said.“We cannot let this flooding problem pass on to another generation,” steering committee member Gene Hovest said. “We are committed to go forward on this project.”