A flood prevention planned passed a Senate subcommittee Wednesday despite some opposition to the way it would obtain funding. The plan spurred by the floods that hit Cedar Rapids in 2008 would allow a city to hold onto some of the growth in state sales tax receipts.
The city would then match that money with local and federal funds to pay for flood mitigation. Victor Elias with the Coalition for a Better Iowa says his group objects because those dollars would disappear from legislative decision-making process.
“You’re diverting money away from the general fund, not subject to competing interests like education, and health care, and public safety, and other infrastructure needs,” Elias says. But the plan’s supporters say a state board would oversee the spending, and the projects would save millions of dollars in flood restoration in the future.
A similar bill allowed the city of Newton to pay for the community’s racetrack project with state sales tax receipts. Elias says his group isn’t against helping Cedar Rapids recover.
“We’re a community of Iowans and we help our neighbors , so it’s not the question of whether Cedar Rapids deserves the help, they do, and other communities that get hit like that, deserve the help of the community of Iowa,” he says. But Elias says this is not the way to provide the help.
“The method of funding it is what’s wrong,” Elias said. Cedar Rapids seeks $200-million from the state over time to help pay for a $375-million flood protection system.