This letter is a follow up to my earlier letter regarding the huge mess in the form of the Biggert-Waters Reform Act. I attended the public hearing held at Penn College Klump Academic Center Dec. 10th. This was scheduled by the Lycoming County planning office to gain public input on the implications of this act. I was frankly disappointed by the number of homeowners that attended. I urge others to get involved. Those who have commented, both online and in person, that it is not their problem that others are so stupid as to buy into a flood zone, they are not going to subsidize that stupidity, etc. are missing an important point. When the values of the flood zone properties go to nothing due to being unsaleable, do you really imagine that the municipalities and school districts are just going to forgo those tax dollars? They are going to take it from those who's property is now more valued due to not being in a flood zone. So in the not too distant future this law will effect everyone.
One couple that attended had recently purchased an apartment building in Jersey Shore. Improvements were in the process of being made to the property when they were handed their new flood insurance rate. The new rate is $40,000 per year. The property improvements have ended and they do not know at this point what they will do. Another home owner who offered comments was a young newly married man in Muncy. The couple purchased their first home, a home they knew that they could afford. Yes, it was in a flood zone (as 40 percent of homes in Muncy are) and they had been told upfront that they must pay for flood insurance. However, they were not told that this rate would explode. The insurance must be paid in full at the end of December. They do not know what they are going to do.
The passage of this law caught everyone involved by surprise. No one, including homeowners, business owners, insurance agents, etc. were made aware this was coming. When I contacted Rep. Tom Marino's office about this law, I was informed that he had voted for this but that he had been unaware when voting, of the pain coming to local property owners as a result.
Probably true we all know how legislation is passed, not fully read and evaluated, only to result in unintended consequences. One only has to recall the now infamous "We have to pass it to see what is in it" statement uttered stupidly by Nancy Pelosi. However when asked why Marino's office was not making people aware of the coming financial disaster, I was told by a staff member, "it's not our job."
So you can pass the legislation but when unintended financially painful results become apparent, it is kept hush-hush? I believe that when the financial effects became apparent they tried to keep it under cover as long as they could.
I would like to thank the Sun-Gazette and reporter Mike Reuther for covering this issue and the Lycoming County Commissioners and planning office for holding the public hearing. I hope that the efforts continue in the form of news coverage, possible mitigation funding, public discussion, etc.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom