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BY TIMOTHY O'HARA Citizen Staff
tohara@keysnews.com


The exact savings will not be released by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or posted on its web page until Monday. However, city and county officials, on Thursday, released estimates on the annual savings.

By being included in FEMA’s Community Rating System program, Key West property and business owners with National Flood Insurance Program policies should see a 15 percent or $1.5 million in annual savings and Monroe County residents and business owners  should see 20 percent or $3.6 million in savings, according to city and county estimates.

The reductions come because the two local governments have been working with FEMA for the past several years to obtain entrance into the Community Rating System, which offers flood insurance discounts for cities and counties that meet certain criteria and fulfill certain requirements.

Residents and business owners in Key Colony Beach have been part of the Community Rating System program since 1991, which has resulted in 10 percent annual savings for National Flood Insurance Program policy holders, according to Key Colony Beach officials.

Islamorada entered the program last year, which resulted in 15 percent or $499,841 in annual savings for policy holders, according to city officials.

Marathon is currently working with FEMA and filed the necessary paper work to be part of the Community Rating System on securing discounts for its residents and business owners as well, according to Marathon Deputy City Manager George Garrett. Marathon has qualified for the savings but is still waiting to see how much the savings will be, Garrett said. Garrett expected the savings to be comparable to Key West and the county, he said.

Both the city of Key West and the county used to be in good standing with FEMA but lost the designation by the mid-1990s. The county lost the designation because FEMA charged the county was not doing enough to keep people from living in illegal downstairs enclosures.

The city was not maintaining accurate records on elevation certificates for buildings and permitting things the city shouldn’t have, according to City Floodplain Administrator Scott Fraser.

The Florida Keys have gone from the “red-headed stepchild of the National Flood Insurance Program to a shining star,” Assistant County Administrator Christine Hurley said.