Tioga County commissioner discusses Biggert-Waters Act

WELLSBORO – Tioga County Commissioner Erick Coolidge discussed the potential impact of new FEMA flood plain maps that could increase residents and businesses’ flood insurance costs by astronomical levels.

Coolidge made his remarks during the commissioners’ regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

“Under the circumstances questions are being raised in regard to what impacts there might be and whether they gave accreditation to our current flood plains and levies,” Coolidge said.

The Biggert-Waters act of 2012 expands the flood plain areas from current areas, and increases the premiums those with homes and businesses located in the new flood zones will have to pay.

“One business here will go from $5,000 per year to $95,000 per year. If your home is in a flood area insuring it will be quite a challenge,” Coolidge said, adding the maps used may not be entirely accurate.

“In the years since I have been on this board, 1996, we have gone through a 500 year and three 100 year floods, and several snow melts and high water, with just water in some basements,” Coolidge added.

According to Coolidge, meetings with the National Association of Counties, congressmen Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, and Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, were recently held in Lycoming County to raise awareness.

“They (Lycoming County) have pulled back on their property reassessment due to values that could be altered by the legislation,” he said.

Coolidge said the commissioners have been working on this since March of last year when they became aware of it.

“We reached out to Sen. Toomey’s office and had a conversation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 3 department,” Coolidge said.

He said the county’s emergency services office has offered an analysis with its findings and they FEMA will provide an expert in the flood plain map to review it.

“Your board is very much aware of the challenges this could create,” he added.

Coolidge said it is understood disasters are expensive to recover from, “but our concern was are we compromising areas that are actually protected and shouldn’t be designated flood zones.”

In other business, commissioners:

Accepted the retirement of David Suhr, deputy warden at Tioga County Prison. Coolidge noted that Suhr has served his country in the military and Tioga County as both a corrections officer and for some time as deputy warden. “His tenure here has been a benefit to the county,” he said.

Approved an agreement with Shippen and Deerfield townships with the county as their tax collector for the next three years.

Approved the appointment of Josh Zeyn, Ken Raymond and Donna Baker as deputy tax collectors for Deerfield, Shippen, Morris townships and Liberty Borough.

Approved a one year contract extension agreement between the county and Department of Human Services Professional Employees Union.

Approved a medical provider agreement with Dr. Joseph Cama, M.D. and Lara Cama P.A., to provide medical services to the inmates at the Tioga County Prison for $40,000 per year, for both, for one year.

Approved a maintenance contract with SBM Electronics for maintenance of a digital voice logger used at the 911 center for $6,250.

Approved an agreement with Tyco Simplex Grinnell for fire alarm inspections and maintenance at the St. James Buildings in Mansfield for $2,827 for one year.

Approved survey services agreement with Duane E. Wetmore to survey and mark boundary lines of county property in Charleston Township on Route 6 and Shumway Hill Road for $3,500.

Approved an agreement with Zelenkofske, Axelrod LLC for auditing services for the county for the year ending Dec. 31, 2013 for $43,800; 2014 for $45,990; 2015 for $48,290; and 2016 $50,700. Auditing fees for the 911 department are for 2013 $2,500; 2014 $2,625; 2015 $2,755; and 2016 $2,890.

Approved a one year agreement with Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification maintenance and service agreement between the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Institute And the county for $1,561.

Reappointed Leo Parchesky to Tioga County Housing Authority board till 2019.

Reappointed Sharyl Johnson, Steve Banos and Grant Gehman to the county planning commission until 2016.

Appointed William Stokes III to the county planning commission, replacing Bob DeCamp, for three years.

Approved a request to advertise for bids for a pre-fab concrete equipment shelter at the new 911 tower site for the second time. No one bid on it the first time.

Approved use of the Green and courthouse lawn and parking lot for the 2014 State Laurel Festival June 14-22 with June 14, Family Day, a smoke free day on the Green.

Announced the commissioner’s next meeting will be held Jan. 28 at 11 a.m. at the courthouse.