If they stay, they pay.

Well, it seems the City of Moorhead is contemplating a new approach to addressing sandbagging costs in areas that are offered buyouts.  The new proposed approach focuses on  homeowners who don’t take the buyouts.  If a homeowner chooses not to take a buyout under the proposed new approach the city will make the homeowner pay for future sandbagging efforts to protect the property.

Mayor Mark Voxland cites that $87 million has been expended by the city since 2009 to buy more than 200 riverfront homes and to construct citywide 42.5 foot levees.  And yet, eighty-seven properties remain on the river.  According to City Manager Michael Redlinger “the city spent $464,366.11 on sandbagging costs for this year’s flood, most of which went to those 87 properties.”

Some may say this approach is too harsh, but I say it is just right.  Why shouldn’t these homeowners assume their known risks the same way the rest of us do?  Why should the taxpayers pay over and over again to subsidize the risk taken by these homeowners?  The answer is – they shouldn’t; hence, the City of Moorhead needs to make a fiscally sound decision and stop absorbing the cost of sandbagging efforts for those property owners that choose to refuse buyouts.

Let’s face it, we all live our lives accepting varying levels of risk.  Some folks are very cautious in the risks they take, while others throw caution to the wind.  Many folks choose to live in areas where their family and property are at greater risk.  As a result, they may be rewarded by closer proximity to nature and penalized by larger insurance premiums.  But let’s be realistic, risk cannot be entirely avoided anywhere and there are clearly some areas where risk is heightened – such as near a river that regularly experiences major flooding.

This notion that government should pick up the bill when we make repetitive or ongoing poor risk choices is not sustainable and is not the way society generally operates.   We should be able to expect our government to do some things for us, but there has to be a line folks.  It is only when folks are forced to own their own known risks that they can make the most prudent choices for themselves.

If you are in an area that regularly floods and your mechanism for protecting your property is tied closely to government’s action and purse strings – I would say you should rethink where you live.  If you want to stay where you are at because you believe the benefit outweighs the burden, then be prepared to pay for that benefit.  There is a fine line between helping folks and institutionalizing dependency. The City of Moorhead has helped these folks in the buyout area enough.  It is time to draw a line in the sand…if they stay, they pay.

Day one thousand four hundred and twenty-one of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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2 Responses to If they stay, they pay.

  1. tim haering says:

    Amen! Further, the remaining homeowners ought to pre-order the sandbagging. And they should have the option of hieing private sangbaggers. ANd if they fail to ask for govt bagging or order private bagging, their house should flood. GO, Morehead! The levee idea, however …. IT never pays to fool Mother Nature. HOw far under the Mississippi is New Orleans?

  2. Miki says:

    I also agree with you on this. As you stated, these home owners know the risk in choosing to live next to a waterway and should pay the additional costs inherent in that location. In the area I live, there is one family whose home is right on the river. Every time it floods, this family “expects” others to come rushing to sandbag their home. They never make any preparations to have supplies of bags and sand on hand….they expect that someone else will bring the stuff to them when it’s way past the time it should be there, when it’s known ahead of time there is risk of flooding. There was even one time the home owner stood at the window, drinking a cup of coffee, watching the volunteers work to save the home. And these volunteers were not offered any food or beverages or even thanked! Since then, people have been very relunctant to go help.

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