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Published March 16 2011

Lisbon moves forward with buyouts

LISBON, N.D. – Lisbon will move forward with buying at least five properties along the Sheyenne River so permanent flood protection can be built.

Lisbon is about 75 miles southwest of Fargo.

The City Council decided on Monday night to move forward with five, and possibly six, buyouts, City Auditor Rachel Eppler said Tuesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city have been working on buyouts of 16 properties expected to flood this spring.

The city could have partnered with FEMA on all of the 16 buyouts, but that would have prevented the construction of permanent flood protection, said Irv Rustad, executive director of the Lake Agassiz Regional Council.

FEMA does not allow permanent dikes to be built on federally funded buyout areas.

Rustad, who is helping coordinate the buyouts, said offers have already been sent to 10 of the property owners.

“We’ll be hearing about who wants the buyouts in the next 30 days,” he said.

Eppler said the city hopes to complete the buyouts this year, but it will likely not be done before spring flooding begins.

The National Weather Service predicts the Sheyenne River has a 20 percent chance of reaching 2009 record flood levels. In 2009, the river crested at 22.86 feet.

If the city shared costs of all the buyouts with FEMA, federal funding would have cut the city’s share to $180,000.

Instead, the six properties will cost the city an estimated $368,000, Eppler said.

She said the city is considering special assessments to pay for the buyouts. Imposing a sales tax was informally proposed early on, but Eppler said that option is no longer being considered.

The council plans to discuss the buyouts again on April 4.