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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Sales Tax Question #8: How will buyouts work?

Q. How will the money be distributed to homeowners? What qualifications/paperwork will homeowners need to present? What can homeowners do with the money? Can they hire anyone they want to do repairs, or must they use city recommended labor/suppliers? What will ensure homeowners will use the money as it was intended? What about homeowners that have already finished rebuilding and are back in their homes, will they be reimbursed? – Bryan Galde, Marion

A. How will the money be distributed to homeowners? What qualifications/paperwork will homeowners need to present? The local-option sales tax is not a city program, it provides a source for the city to fill funding pools that pay for buyouts, home repairs and replacement housing. The money will be distributed to homeowners through existing programs like the buyout program and Jumpstart housing. The city has already identified 1,346 homes eligible for buyouts. Homeowners won’t have to prove their eligibility, though the city will have consultations with homeowners. “We would ask if they’re interested,” said Jennifer Pratt, the city’s development coordinator.

Can homeowners hire anyone they want to do repairs, or must they use city recommended labor/suppliers? What will ensure homeowners will use the money as it was intended? What about homeowners that have already finished rebuilding, will they be reimbursed? Use of the money will be strictly monitored, unlike the initial FEMA assistance flood victims received. The city won’t just write checks and hand them to people.

Homeowners won’t get money for a buyout until the real estate transaction closes, meaning the title has been cleared up and the deal is finalized. Homeowners interested in rebuilding their flooded homes will be paid based on receipts, or with direct payment from the city to the contractor who does the work. So yes, homeowners who’ve already completed repairs can still get assistance, as long as they keep the receipts. Homeowners can hire anyone they want to repair their home, as long as the contractor is licensed and has taken lead safety training.

(Thanks goes to Jennifer Pratt, the city’s development coordinator, for walking me through this stuff.)

I am trying to respond to reader questions about the sales tax this week. Please e-mail or call with your questions, at adam.belz@gazcomm.com or (319) 398-8273.

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Filed under: Cedar Rapids City Council, Flood, , , ,

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