Should all D.C. residents pay to make Bloomingdale flooding victims whole?

December 4, 2012

City workers clean up after September flooding on T Street NW. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

As Tim Craig reported last week, the D.C. Council will vote today on a pair of bills meant to address this summer’s floods in the Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods. One bill would establish a million-dollar fund to reimburse homeowners for damage, funded by a levy of up to 30 cents on monthly household water bills.

Is this a good idea? At this morning’s pre-meeting breakfast, council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) raised questions about the wisdom of having residents citywide pay to address a localized problem that, while particularly acute in recent months, has long been a known issue. Why not use other city funds, Bowser asked, and what processes are in place to make sure the claims are fairly paid out?

Bill sponsors Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) assured Bowser the process is workable and the financial burden on ratepayers is minimal. But the measure is also facing opposition from Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who said  he prefers a “comprehensive, reasoned and prudent approach” to the flooding — such as the one being devised by the mayoral task force looking into the issue. The council bills, he said in a letter to the council today, overlap on the work of the task force and have other potential defects.

The task force, Gray said, will issue a report on addressing the Bloomingdale situation this week. The group is set to meet Thursday afternoon.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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