Published On: Thu, Aug 31st, 2017

More questions are answered about floodplain project

RANDOLPH — With the Oct. 3 special election for the bonding of the Randolph floodplain project quickly approaching, the Randolph Times has been trying to clear up some of the misconceptions about the project.
The following questions were answered by Randolph city officials.

Q: What effect will the bond issue for the project have on my property taxes?

A.: None. The bond issue is a vote to pass a one percent (1%) sales tax on merchandise purchased in the City of Randolph. If voted in Oct. 3, the sales tax will be used to service the annual debt on the USDA project loan for 20 years.

Q: What is the present state sales tax and don’t we already pay extra on a city sales tax?

A: The present State sales tax is 5.5 percent. Randolph pays an extra one percent for the downtown improvement project for a total of 6.5 percent. The downtown improvement project will sunset in 2020, so for a short time, Randolph sales tax could rival Norfolk’s present sales tax charge of 7.5 percent. Presently, other area sales taxes are: Osmond—6.5 percent, Laurel—5.5 percent, Hartington—6.5 percent, Wausa—6.5 percent, Plainview—7 percent, Pierce—6.5 percent, Wayne—7 percent.

Q: Why was an improved channel chosen over other options?
A. The improved channel through Randolph was selected for a number of reasons:

1. It was the most affordable solution when partnered to a 65/35 percent partnership with USACE. Of the 35 percent City share, approximately half will be shared with the Lower Elkhorn NRD and two counties. This makes Randolph’s share about 17 percent of the total $14,395,723 project, or roughly $2.45 million.

2. It impacts the fewest property owners of any choice studied.

3. The channel improvements required no off-site dams upstream that would have affected farms and farmland. Off-site dams could have numbered as many as four-five for holding back water draining from over 20 square miles of farmland flowing into Randolph from three directions.

4. The channel improvement project removes all but six properties from the Middle Logan Creek floodplain.

Q. How deep and wide will the improved channel be?

A. Surveyors have been drilling soil core samples to determine the answer to this question. If the soils are suitable, a deeper and narrower channel can possibly be designed to minimize the loss to property owners adjacent to the channel. The channel will also have a right of way on one side in order to allow maintenance of the improved channel by the City of Randolph.

Q. When will work begin on the project?

A. If the vote for the bond to pay for channel improvements is approved, work will begin in earnest with more preparation and bid-documents to be released in the calendar year 2018. The first soil work will take place in 2019 with an anticipated finish time in 2021.

Q: How will bridge traffic be affected?

A. Traffic affected by bridge removal and reconstruction will be coordinated to best consider emergency service, local traffic, and seasonal use of farm-to-market roads.

Q. How will weather affect the schedule?

A. Weather plays into a large part of the equation when dealing with channel improvements.
The engineers must account for the drainage of more than 20 square miles flowing into the tributaries of the Middle Logan Creek. Mother Nature is not always the best partner to coordinate with when it comes to precipitation (snow, ice, or rain) from such a large area draining into one square mile of the town. In fact, this is precisely why the project is vital to the community. Recent torrential rainfalls in Battle Creek and Pierce this summer could possibly have been devastating for Randolph residents.

Q. Some think Randolph has never had a serious flood and the money could be better spent fixing up the housing that has fallen into disrepair. Why do this project at all?

A. The question has several answers.

First, there have been 14 floods in Randolph over the past 100 years including the loss of one life. In streams and rivers, ice jams and debris are more often to blame for floods than any other source. There is no control of these flood sources other than to improve the channel and maximize clearance under bridges.

Second, neither Federal nor State funds are available for housing development or rehabilitation on floodplain structures. Development grants and planning dollars are not available for the 133 structures presently located in the designated floodplain in Randolph.

Third, the overall floodplain designation by FEMA is designed with the purpose in mind of eventually removing all endangered structures from the area in order to minimize the need for disaster protection and insurance coverage. In short, FEMA’s intention is to eventually eliminate all residential homes and most structures in the areas designated by the floodplain.

To summarize, a vote “Yes,” for channel and bridge improvements on the Oct. 3 ballot restores Randolph’s freedom to build, rehabilitate, and revitalize the community as it did before 1988.