Sept. 05--Using some of Warren's rainy day fund for low-interest loans to help city residents clean up their homes from the Aug. 11 flood is a good idea, but it can't be done.
That's the word from City Attorney David Griem, who looked into the idea proposed last month by City Council. He said the state constitution and two attorney general rulings prevent the city from offering such loans.
"You can't take public money and loan or grant public money for private purposes," Griem said Thursday. "It just can't be done. It was a good-hearted thought."
He said homeowners and renters can obtain low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration to replace personal property. Officials also are hoping for grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Warren was one of the hardest-hit communities in metro Detroit by the Aug. 11 flood. Mayor Jim Fouts said about 40% of the city's nearly 57,000 residences were damaged, amounting to more than $231 million.
City Council asked Griem to look at the possibility of using about $10 million of the city's rainy day fund for low-interest loans to help residents clean up.
On Wednesday, Fouts announced that he wants the state to give tax breaks to homeowners to help offset the cost of cleaning out basements and replacing furniture and appliances damaged in the storm.
He is proposing the Legislature approve state income tax deductions for the tens of thousands of residents in southeastern Michigan whose homes were damaged. He said he also has talked about basement flooding with Gov. Rick Snyder's top appointees, including flood insurance reform proposals that he sent to Snyder and state legislators last week.
Fouts previously announced the city would waive specific permit fees for new furnaces and water heaters for residents with basements that flooded in the storm.
"Everyone in city government is trying to do anything and everything they can to help flood victims," Griem said.
Warren flood victims who need help with cleaning can call United Way's 211. Others with problems related to the flooding can call the city's Human Resources Department, which includes the insurance division, at 586-574-4670.
Contact Christina Hall: firstname.lastname@example.org
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