Reducing FEMA Flood Premiums and OHPC highlight village board meeting

Former Owego Mayor Kevin Millar made a presentation at last Monday’s board meeting regarding a conference he attended that talked about reducing FEMA flood insurance premiums. Probably a large number of Owego citizens have recently received notice that their premiums are going up, yet again.  

FEMA insurance is like any insurance with the risk being shared by all who are covered by it, and recent catastrophic weather in other states due to hurricanes has increased premiums in Owego, N.Y. 

Since 1993, the area has experienced five floods, despite theories on changing weather patterns. For Owego, flooding may be part of our new “normal”.

What Millar discovered is that FEMA may understand part of our pain. The obvious methods of reducing premiums include options of elevating your home or moving your home to higher ground.  

For those with not enough in their bank accounts for those two options, the Community Rating Service (CRS) is an option that can reduce premiums by as much as 5 percent for all homeowners in the community without a lot of pain. With even more community work, premiums can be lowered by as much as 45 percent.

To participate in the program, the community can choose to do some or all of 19 public information and floodplain management activities. To get credit for the activities, community officials (like the Owego Village Board) would need to prepare an application documenting the efforts.  

One requirement is Activity 310, Elevation Certificates. If a community is designated a repetitive loss community, Activity 510 Floodplain Management Planning is also required. All other activities are optional.  

The more activities accomplished, some as easy as making sure materials about FEMA, flooding, and what to do if a flood happens are available in the local library, earns points. Five hundred points are the minimum to earn a discount, while 4,500 earns a 45 percent discount.

More information can be found online at

Millar stated, “The CRS Program has a chance to reduce flood insurance premiums for all property owners in the village, and I hope that the Village Board pursues joining it.”

In other Village Board related news, the opening public comments and a permit for replacement windows on a historic home set the tone for much of the recent meeting on Monday. These topics were a carry-over from the previous meeting. 

Town of Owego Historian and Owego resident, Peter Gordon, handed out a packet that included not only the significant history of the home but also how easy it is to make interior storms.  

This was followed by further pleas for the reinstatement of the Owego Historic Preservation Commission (OHPC).

Sharing IT serves with Tioga County was raised as the area is part of a high-speed fiber optic upgrade and there is significant grant money for municipalities that they are willing to upgrade their Internet and phone systems. Part of the project includes a grant from New York State that would pay for 90 percent of the costs for new equipment and training. 

The Treasurer, Rod Marchewka, reported that an $8,800 refund from NYSEG will go towards defraying the cost of LED street lights, but another $14,000 is needed for the project. An extra $150,000 in cemetery funds will be used to fix drainage problems in Evergreen Cemetery, with better drainage reducing stress on the walls. There is a plan to fix the damaged walls, and the drainage work will begin once the new drainage pipes arrive.

A budget meeting will be held on Monday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. with, if necessary, a second meeting on Wednesday, May 23 at 5:30 p.m. Budget meetings are open to the public. In preparation for putting together the budget, Mayor Baratta has met with department heads. 

In 1882 there was an agreement that some private landowners would share the cost of maintaining a private section of a sewer, and the particular portion of the line is still privately owned. However, the Village has cleaned out the section at least six times without any contribution from the private owners. Martin Plumbing has recently marked out the system, and it appears there are about 10 to 12 properties currently using it.  As well, there are six downspouts going into the sewer despite an ordinance making that illegal. The issue will continue to be followed up.

The closing public comments continued with more pleas for OHPC and how helpful it could be in saving time, but also reminders of how the quaint appearance of an historic village can increase community income through grants and tourism.

The next Village Board meeting will be on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at 20 Elm St.

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