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County getting funds for Timber Creek

Thursday, August 28, 2014 by Tyler Whitson

The Travis County Commissioners Court has agreed to enter into a Project Partnership Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will provide the county with federal funding for home buyouts in the flood-prone Timber Creek subdivision.

The agreement provides about $1 million in federal funds for the Timber Creek project in Fiscal Year 2014.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the agreement. The contract signing is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. today in the commissioners courtroom of the Travis County Administration Building.

Commissioner Margaret Gómez told the Austin Monitor after the vote that she’s very excited about the move. “I’m so glad that we were able to come to an agreement with the Army Corps,” she said. “We really need those resources in order to finish up buying some of those homes in Timber Creek and then do other things for the creeks.”

The total projected cost of the Timber Creek project is $11,976,000. The county estimates it will pay $4,446,600, while the federal government will pay the rest.

County voters have allocated a total of about $5.4 million to projects within the Timber Creek subdivision, following votes in 2005 and 2011.

Travis County has been buying properties in Timber Creek since 2007 and has spent beyond its match to the federal government. According to Tuesday’s agenda request, this year’s federal funding will likely go to reimburse the county for money already spent.

Travis County Floodplain Administrator Stacey Scheffel told the Monitor on Wednesday that the county has not yet decided how it will allocate the funds. She said the priority is flood damage reduction, which includes the buyouts and reimbursements.

If funding is available beyond that, Scheffel added, it will likely go toward ecosystem restoration and park design within the Timber Creek subdivision.

The Timber Creek project was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2007 as part of the Water Resources Development Act. The same legislation also approved a shared-cost project between the federal government and the City of Austin for a similar floodplain buyout and recreational project for the Onion Creek Forest and Yarrabee Bend subdivisions.

The city is scheduled to vote on its contract with the Army Corps for its projects during today’s regular City Council meeting.

It should be noted that these projects differ from the buyout plans the city and county have presented in response to the flooding of Onion Creek that took place last Halloween.

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