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Bonds vs. Grants - Funding Choices for Flood Mitigation

Updated: Mar 20

In this episode of UrbanHydro, Shauna Urlacher explores the best options for funding flood mitigation projects. Discover why bonds may not be the ideal choice and uncover the intriguing alternative that can stretch a limited budget much further. Stay tuned to find out how to secure grant funding and get community members on your side.

[00:00:00] Options for funding a flood mitigation project can include bonds, low-interest loans, stormwater utility fees, and grants

[00:02:34] Staff may be considering grants, but running low on time to implement

[00:03:33] Get community members on your side.

The Power of Grant Funding for Flood Mitigation Projects

using a bond for flood mitigation projects

Struggling to find funding for your community's flood mitigation project? You're not alone. With limited budgets and numerous competing projects, securing approval for your project can be a daunting task. However, there's good news: grant funding often emerges as the optimal choice for many communities seeking to tackle flood mitigation, even when compared with other funding opportunities such as bonds.

In this blog post, we will explore the challenges of other funding options, the advantages of grant funding, strategies for overcoming internal resistance, and the importance of rallying community support. By considering grant funding, you can stretch your budget further, prioritize your project, and make progress toward a safer and more resilient community.

The Challenges of Other Funding

The funding terrain is a varied one. Yes, options exist, such as:

  • Bonds

  • low-interest loans

  • stormwater utility fees

imposing fees on taxpayers to fund mitigation projects

But note that bonds and loans must eventually be repaid, merely spreading out the cost over a longer duration, and it requires a community vote to pass. A stormwater utility fee can be difficult to implement as it assesses a fee to each property based on the amount of hard surface or impervious area on each parcel (yes, it’s a mouthful!). Like a bond, it also must be voted on by the taxpayers, and it imposes a financial burden on the residents.

The Magic of Grant Funding

This is where the beauty of grant funding comes in and why I’m excited to work with communities to perfect their FEMA grant applications. Often cited as the preferred choice, it eliminates the need for citizen voting or the imposition of extra property fees. This means city staff members can proactively harness grants to address long-term infrastructure needs.

With grant funding, communities can stretch limited budgets much further, subsequently allowing the completion of more projects. Plus, council members are often more inclined to prioritize your project if a significant portion of the funding is already secured. Who would want to lose a 75% funded project by not budgeting for the remaining 25%?

Sometimes, acquiring additional funding is possible even after your project has been selected for review. This is particularly true for FEMA grants; keep in mind that other non-federal grants can help fund the 25% local share.

staff handling grant application paperwork

Overcoming Internal Resistance

Occasionally, the main obstacle to securing grant funding isn’t about locating potential funding sources but overcoming internal resistance. City staff can sometimes be hesitant to pursue grants, often due to a lack of understanding or perceived complexity.

This situation calls for upper management, such as council members, to encourage grant applications energetically. Staff usually respond more positively when decision-makers support their grant endeavors. Remember, all it takes is one dedicated person to initiate the grant application process. Once the ball gets rolling, others are likely to follow suit.

In conclusion, choosing grant funding to propel your flood mitigation projects is a move worth considering. It's often the most financially savvy choice and doesn’t impose additional financial burdens on your community members. The task then remains to ensure everyone is committed to pursuing these grant opportunities. For further guidance, feel free to delve deeper into my previous content on rallying community support for your projects.


What funding options exist for flood mitigation projects?

Communities have a range of funding options for flood mitigation projects, including bonds, low-interest loans, stormwater utility fees, and grants. Each has benefits, and several add a burden to local taxpayers.

overwhelmed city staff sourcing funds for community projects

What are the pros and cons of using bonds and low-interest loans for funding flood mitigation projects?

Bonds and low-interest loans allow projects to move forward, but they do need to be repaid, spreading the cost over a longer period of time. This can be advantageous for budgetary reasons, but it also means there is a financial burden on the community.

Why is grant funding often the preferred choice for communities when funding flood mitigation projects?

Grant funding is often the preferred choice for communities when funding flood mitigation projects because they do not require a vote or an additional fee from property owners. They allow communities to complete more projects and stretch their limited budget further.

How can collaboration between council members, staff, and experts like the city engineer help streamline the grant process?

Collaboration between council members, staff, and experts like the city engineer is crucial in streamlining the grant application and project prioritization process. By working together, they can ensure that projects are aligned with grant opportunities and that the application process is efficient and effective.


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