Hatboro elected officials are wrestling with how to cover roughly $80,000 in local costs in the event the federal government approves buyouts of a dozen flood-damaged units at the Woodwinds complex.
The council led the charge to request that the Federal Emergency Management Agency buy out the flood-ravaged homes, demolish them and return the property to its natural state, but Council President John Zygmont said during a capital budget meeting Monday that elected officials have yet to discuss who would cover the required 3 percent match of the approximate $2 million project.
Zygmont suggested that since any federal monies would be paid in a lump sum to Hatboro that the borough use the estimated $160,000 per homeowner to leverage the remaining amount needed, either from the property owner or the homeowner’s association.
“I don’t know that we put the rest of the residents on the hook for all of it,” Zygmont said. “I didn’t buy the house up there. Why, as a resident, should I be paying for it?”
Zygmont directed acting borough manager Fred Zollers to look into how neighboring municipalities handle the required 3 percent match when properties receive government buyouts.
Zollers said that from what he has learned to date, other towns have handled the local match in a “multitude” of ways, including paying the fees outright and having residents fund the entire amount.
Councilman Mark Sheedy said that expecting the Woodwinds homeowners to cover the estimated $78,000 cost might be asking too much.
“If I bought the house for $200,000 and they’re only going to give me $150,000 … I don’t think I have a nickel to give you,” Sheedy said.
But, Councilman Bill Tompkins said Woodwinds property owners would save the realtor’s commission, which he said ranges from 3 percent to 6 percent of a home’s selling price in the real estate market.
Should the council opt to use borough funds to cover some or all of the expense, Zygmont said it would come from the capital budget.
If FEMA opts to buy out the properties, Zollers said the Woodwinds homeowners would receive the amount their home was appraised for – “no negotiation.”
Besides the home’s cost, Zollers said the roughly $2 million price tag would cover legal and engineering fees, demolition expenses, as well as the costs associated with returning the property, which abuts Pennypack Creek, to its natural grassy state. The borough would then own the property and be responsible for its maintenance.
Zollers said FEMA is still reviewing the application and he did not know when a decision would be made or when funding would be available.