MANATEE -- Local municipalities are struggling to comply with changes in the federal community rating system, which can save property owners money on flood insurance through discounts based on a point system, officials said Tuesday.
Under new federal guidelines, local municipalities will assume responsibility for earning discounts through the voluntary rating system. The National Flood Insurance Program is administered by the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.
"The community rating system affects every property owner, so we've done that, and we're 99 percent sure we'll still get a 20 percent discount for our citizens, but it's a burden for a small town like Bradenton Beach," Mayor Bill Shearon said Tuesday.
The little Anna Maria Island beach community was the first in the county to undergo a review based on new guidelines. Previously it was included under the umbrella of Manatee County, officials told the county commission.
The whole process has been a struggle, said Shearon.
Bradenton Beach employees went through years of records, looking up permits about elevation and flood criteria and descriptions of land features. When the review was moved up unexpectedly, county employees stepped in to help assemble documentation the municipality needed to earn points, he said.
"It's been a real challenge, but we're the little town that could," Shearon said.
Don Hermey, Manatee County emergency management chief, described the situation for county commissioners noting the new standard says local municipalities must be "stand alone storm-ready."
"You can imagine their heartburn with this new standard," he said.
Under the federal rating system, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reward communities that reduce flood damage to insurable property, support the flood insurance program and encourage comprehensive floodplain management, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Nearly 3.8 million policyholders in 1,296 communities participate in the rating system by implementing local mitigation, floodplain management, and outreach activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements," FEMA said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.