While the new FEMA flood maps are bad news for many in the Upper Valley, that doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the city is off the hook.
There could be a trickle down effect of new flood plain maps.
A man representing the Association of Builders said what the city stands to lose if the Upper Valley is designated a flood zone is a lot – including property values.
“You’re property will be reduced if its now mapped on a flood plane, ” said Sal Masoud, Chairman of the Land Use Council with the Association of Builders. He told council when these maps become effective properties will lose value anywhere from 10 to as much as 80 percent in a few cases.
“People who bought their house in the last two years and bought it at a certain value and if they were mapped into the flood plane and they lose 30 percent of their value, they might lose their entire equity,” warned Masoud.
But not everyone on council was sympathetic, ” I don’t think it’s right because the citizens of El Paso had to pay millions of dollars to pay for damage for people who don’t have flood insurance,” said City Rep. Eddie Holguin.
Of course the true value of any home is whatever an able buyer is willing to pay for it, but if book value drops, so would property taxes collected on those homes.
Masoud explained if there’s a massive reduction in appraised value in the upper valley, taxing entitities such as the city, county, school districts and the hospital district could lose in millions.
“If you take that and apply it to a 10 year period or 25 year period then you’re looking at multi-million dollar losses if we let this happen,” said Masoud.
Which would spread the tax burden elsewhere in El Paso.
Development could also come to a screeching halt in the area since Masoud said building permits will be more difficult to come by and make the process a lot more expensive.
“It will basically just halt that area to zero,” said Masoud.
City officials say all of Masoud’s information is being taken into consideration, but now the focus is on the International Boundary and Water Commission certifying as many levees as possible in this area in order to keep it from receiving a flood zone designation.
The U.S. Legislature is considering a five year delay period for those affected by the FEMA flood maps.
The House of Representatives has already passed the measure and the senate will be holding a hearing Wednesday. The goal is to give IBWC time to finish certifying the levees.