Alexander County is one step closer to starting the buyout process it began almost two years ago.
During the July 16 County Board meeting, Alexander County Engineer Jeff Denny announced he had received a granting agreement from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Denny said he signed and sent the document to Springfield to finalize that end of the process. However, the County is still waiting on the granting agreement from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which is providing 25% of the $11.7 million grant. However, Denny has met with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources engineer to discuss the progress of their granting agreement and Denny said he expects to have their agreement in the next several weeks.
Denny said the County has been required by the state to wait on these two documents before they could begin the buyout process.
“The way the State of Illinois works is … if they are funding a project they will not let you start before your granting agreements are in place,” he said.
He said while it has not exactly been pleasant having to sit in wait, he understands why he had to.
“You have to have the legal framework, otherwise you are going to have problems,” Denny said.
Denny and his office have not sat idle these last several months, however. Denny said his office have done all they can do to expedite the process as much as they can. He said prior to getting the granting agreements. They posted job notices for appraisal companies and after receiving bids for the different jobs, made their decisions on who to hire so when the time came, they could make an official decision. Denny said had they waited until after the agreements were received it could have drug out the buyout process for weeks, even months.
During this time the County has brought in the Southern Five Planning Commission to administrate the grant. Regional planner at Southern Five Crystal Davenport will handle the project and said her office is there coordinate with the State and County to ensure property owners have a smooth ride through the buyout process.
Davenport said property owners need to understand that the amount they are offered for their home or property will be based on pre-flood market value and to help the process along, they should be ready to show documentation for insurance or assistance received after for the flood and receipts for work and improvements made to their properties as this will help expedite their appraisal process and ensure they get a fair assessment of their property.
Once the process is able to start, Denny said appraisers will go to each property and assess its value and this may take time. He said it is not possible to get everyone done at once.
Denny said while it may seem like very little progress is being made at the present time, he is confident the start of the process is closer at hand than people may think.
“I think in the next couple of months you will start seeing some to the point of making offers,”he said.
— Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242