A state board today authorized $390.2 milion in local government financing for flood mitigation projects in six Iowa cities. The project in Cedar Rapids – referred to as the “granddaddy of them all” by the board’s chairman – is authorized for nearly $264 million in tax increment financing over the next 20 years. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett thanked the Iowa Flood Mitigation Board for their unanimous vote.

“Your actions today are going to put us in a position that we can not just protect the businesses and the non-profits and the homes of the people on the east side of Cedar Rapids, we’ll be able to protect both sides,” Corbett said, “and for that we’ll be eternally grateful.”

Federal officials had only approved financing for flood protection measures on the east side of the Cedar River which flooded the city in mid-2008.

“This is probably one of the biggest days in Cedar Rapids’ history,” Corbett told reporters after the meeting. “I mean, certainly we saw the devastation of the flood and now to be in a position to be able to protect both sides of the river going forward — it’s a big day for us.”

The Iowa Flood Mitigation Board also approved almost $98.5 million dollars in tax increment financing for the City of Dubuque. Flood prevention and mitigation are “timely” topics in Dubuque according to Roy Buol, the city’s mayor.

“We’ve had six presidential disaster declarations in the last 11 years due to flooding in the Bee Branch water basin,” Buol told the board, “so we need to move quickly to implement our process.”

Coralville, Iowa City, Waverly and Storm Lake were the other cities to get approval for local tax increment financing for flood prevention projects.  James Patrick is the city manager of Storm Lake.

“We have homes that are flooded on a two or three inch rain and many of these people are low or moderate income folks who don’t have the resources to go out and fix their homes,” said James Patrick, the city manager for Storm Lake.

Storm Lake is now authorized by the state board for just over $4 million in tax increment financing. Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett said the nearly $9.8 million in tax increment financing will help complete flood protection that tops out about a foot above 2008 flood levels in Coralville.

“We had over 200 businesses and 400 residences that were displaced in the 2008 flood,” he told the board.

The Iowa Flood Mitigation Board approved Waverly’s request for more than $5.6 million in tax increment financing and Iowa City’s request for almost $8.5 million.  The tax increment financing plans will run over the next 20 years.  That funding, along with federal funding and other locally raised money, will help leverage nearly $1.9 billion in flood protection measures in those six cities.