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Louisville MSD OKs Flood Buyout Funding—But City Funding Still In Question

MSD home buyout
A stop work order from MSD.

The Metropolitan Sewer District approved its end of a plan on Monday that would potentially fund a $3 million quick buyout program for Louisville homes that have been repeatedly damaged by flooding.

This means agency has agreed to spend $1 million to buyout homes that have sustained flood damages so often that they are currently prohibited by city rules from repairs.

But the plan—part of recent recommendations from a workgroup appointed by Mayor Greg Fischer—also called for funding from Louisville Metro Government.

That likely won’t happen for some time—if at all, according to city government leaders.

Last week, Fischer’s office said the city budget won’t include funding for the program, and Metro Council budget leaders say they are relying on direction from the mayor on this issue.

“We are reluctant to do anything,” said Councilman Kelly Downard, vice chair of the city’s budget committee.

“The mayor has to negotiate everything.”

Metro Council members are meeting Thursday to finalize the city budget.

Downard said on Monday that it’s “unlikely” money from the city will go to the quick buyout program. He said the budget funds bonds that could possibly go to the program, but that wouldn't happen immediately.

Downard said he agrees with a recent comment from the mayor’s office that the buyout program should be funded and dealt with by MSD.

“I think MSD—you know Metropolitan Sewer District—they do drainage and when it doesn’t work that’s something they have to deal with," he said.

But MSD board members approved the plan with the hope that the city would also contribute. The plan also includes funding from federal programs and flood insurance.

MSD Board member John Phelps said the city and businesses should also help fund the program.

“I look at it as a community wide problem,” Phelps said. “MSD is in the best position to handle it administratively. From a funding point, I still think it is a community wide problem that should be shared.”

During the meeting, MSD Executive Director Greg Heitzman said he was unaware that the mayor's office said MSD should fund and administer the emergency flood buyout program.

"At this point we don't know if there will be funding in the mayor's budget for the buyout," Heitzman told board members.

The buyout was recommended by a workgroup that included city departments, metro council members and MSD officials, anytime soon.