116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Flood control for the city is a three-legged stool when it comes to funding, according to Mayor Ron Corbett.
That's because state, federal, and city funds are going to be needed to build the $570 million, both-sides-of-the-river project. And on Monday, the stool felt a little wobbly.
Corbett and City Manager Jeff Pomeranz are fresh off a trip to Washington, D.C., where they met with Obama Administration officials, the Army Corps of Engineers, and staff members of Rep. Dave Loebsack and retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. They were making their case to receive a first portion of the $73 million in federal funds that is set out for Cedar Rapids in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year.
Corbett and Pomeranz came back home far from certain that Cedar Rapids will land any of that $73 million to help construct flood control in the city any time soon.
'We've got to stay on this,” Corbett said.
'It's not over,” Pomeranz added. 'And it's going to be a tough job to get the dollars from the federal government for actual construction. It's going to take time.”
Corbett and Pomeranz went to the nation's capital after the city's Washington, D.C., lobbying firm and Sen. Tom Harkin's office said the city needed to make an in-person pitch. They said Congress is now working on a resolution to continue the budget currently in place, as well as a new budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, the administration is working on its budget request for the federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2015.
Corbett said the Corps of Engineers still needs about $2 million to complete the pre-engineering and design work on the east side of the Cedar Rapids project, and, in addition, the city is also seeking $24 million of its $73 million for construction in the federal budget, he said.
The mayor said members of Congress no longer include special appropriations called earmarks in legislation. Instead, members write letters to the administration asking to have a project placed in the administration's budget. Members of Iowa's Congressional delegation have written those letters on Cedar Rapids' behalf, Corbett said.
What's sobering, he said, is the realization that a long list of flood control and water-related projects have been authorized in earlier water-resources bills and have never been built. Many of those projects are waiting for funding, too, Corbett said.
Corbett said five new projects received some federal funding in 2014, which he said makes him 'cautiously optimistic that eventually we are going to get this done.”
Corbett and Pomeranz have said that the city is going to build a flood-control system, in any event, because the city has secured $264 million in state funds over 20 years to pay for much of the cost. City funds also will be used, and the city already had counted $117 million in earlier federal disaster dollars, which were used to buy out property and for other flood-recovery needs related to flood control.
The first phase of the flood control project, which will raise the flood wall at the Quaker Co. plant, is slated to start in 2015.
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