Supporting flood levy is vital for Ironton

Published 9:37 am Sunday, September 28, 2014

This coming November the citizens of Ironton will go to the polls and choose whether to approve the replacement of the Floodwall Protection Levy.

This levy is placed on the ballot every five years and is for the safe protection of our city. I believe the city should provide information regarding the floodwall system, as I have had many questions over the past several months.

The six-mile stretch of floodwall was built by the Corps of Engineers and turned over to the City of Ironton to operate and maintain in 1940. This means that the city must comply with the rules and regulations set forth by the Corps of Engineers in order to receive an acceptable rating, which qualifies our floodwall in the event of an emergency situation.

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If rated unacceptable, it would be as though the floodwall did not exist. The Corps of Engineers conducts an inspection of our system, each year, which includes vegetation on the floodwall, structures too close to the toe of the floodwall, pump stations, maintenance, floodwall exercises, etc. For more than 70 years the city has been able to maintain an acceptable rating, but like everything else, it is not cheap.

The revenue generated by you, the citizens of Ironton, makes it possible to maintain the floodwall system, which protects our homes, businesses, schools and churches.

Currently, the city generates $132,750 a year from a 1-mill levy, which is based on property values. With an additional 1 mill it would generate $265,000. We have one employee and sometimes two employees in this department to cut grass, and repair and maintain the pump stations.

The second employee comes into play when we are in flood stages, meaning the pump stations are running 24 hours a day until the water level recedes or when repairs are needed. Most citizens are not even aware that these pumps are running or that we have two employees working 12-hour shifts. You may not see the floodgates go up, but it doesn’t mean that we are sitting idle. These pumps are old and outdated and very expensive to repair.

Most pump stations have three or four pumps, and if one malfunctions, the other kicks in. I will say that our employees have done a magnificent job maintaining the pumps over the years and protecting our homes and businesses. During my seven years as mayor, we have had to erect one flood gate only one time.

This is a good thing, but we have been in flood stage numerous times, which without the pump stations working properly, many homes and businesses had potential of flooding. Believe it or not, your home and business insurance rates come into play as well. I encourage all of you to check with your insurance company and ask what your rates would be if the floodwall was not certified.

I do not say this with the intent of scaring anyone. The bottom line is it is the truth. Most insurance companies base your rate on the probability of flooding and the elevation certification, which is certified by a surveyor.

Potential new businesses also inquire as to the status of our floodwall system, as well as our total infrastructure. It certainly would not give a good impression to a potential new business if we have an unacceptable floodwall rating. In order to be considered by a new business, we must be up to date and in compliance. This is important to the future of our great city.

In the near future I plan to have a town hall meeting via phone and try to answer any questions or concerns that you may have. You can call in and listen to the information and ask questions if you choose.

I have said all of this because I believe it is vitally important to our city, and I sincerely ask all of you to support this levy when you go to vote.


Rich Blankenship is the mayor of the City of Ironton.