The state Department of Community Affairs initially refused the former city commissioner's bid. But Tom Saxon prevailed.
By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 27, 2002
MADEIRA BEACH -- Former City Commissioner Tom Saxon has successfully argued that his rental property should qualify for a federal flood mitigation grant.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded Saxon $98,912 to defray up to 75 percent of the costs of replacing the structures at 14101 North Bayshore Drive.
Earlier this year, Saxon's grant application for the three-unit rental property had been rejected by the state Department of Community Affairs, which administers all FEMA grants in the state.
The state said the rental property was a "secondary residential structure" and ineligible for funding. Saxon wrote and called DCA and FEMA officials to argue that rental properties are the primary residence of the people living there: his renters.
Saxon prevailed, as he did in a previous battle with the city about a flood mitigation grant for his personal home. That case ended up in the courts when the city said Saxon improperly used his former position as a commissioner to gain an advantage in the grant process. A judge rejected the city's argument and ordered the money released to Saxon.
Since the flood grant program began in 1996, Madeira Beach property owners have received $1.97-million, according to city officials.
"We still have quite a few repetitive loss properties that could qualify for grants," said Elaine Trehy, the city's director of administrative services. "But the 25 percent matching requires quite a bit of cash and a lot of residents may not be able to come up with it."