By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
City leaders are asking the Planning Department to explore options for improving the city’s Floodplain Management Plan in hopes of lowering the cost of flood insurance for Portales citizens.
Regulated by the National Flood Insurance Program, The voluntary federal program issues a rating system that determines the risk level for floods within the city. The lower the rank Portales is issued, the larger the discount homeowners receive for flood insurance.
Flood insurance is only available through the federal program.
“The hope is to always reduce premiums off flood insurance to save people money and if we can lower our rank, then it could actually save dollars to the majority of the citizens in Portales,” said City Councilor Leo Lovett.
Planning Director Sammy Standefer is looking at ways to improve the city’s plan. Portales is currently ranked a class nine, according to Standefer, which is the lowest score the city can receive.
More than 2,100 cities in the U.S. volunteer in the program but Standefer said few have low rankings.
A 5 percent discount for federal flood insurance is issued to homeowners with each class the rankings improve.
The ranking is given based on the amount of points a city racks up through activities it can do. They include such things as adopting ordinances and regular inspections of the city’s drainage system to improve the impact of flooding in the city.
But Standefer said a lot of those activities are costly to complete. He said what the city is already doing is easy and makes it able to obtain the score it has now.
“Historically we haven’t dumped our money into it,” Standefer said. “We try to help citizens. It sounds good to save 5 percent but you never know how much it is to get there.”
Standefer said the city submits all the completed activities once a year to receive its score.
“I think it should be looked at, we need to look into feasibility of it,” said Lovett. “We got to justify the cost, at this point we don’t know what the cost is.”
Standefer said lenders require flood insurance if a property is located in a flood zone and Portales has two large flood zones. He estimated there are about 580 flood policies in the city.
Standefer said he will look to see what additional activities the city can do to bring its ranking down to a class eight but only if the need justifies the cost.
“We’re halfway to our goal of 1,000 (points). We’re going to look into what we can to achieve that goal,” he said.