Williamson Creek flooding A car partially submerged by waters from flooding in the Austin area.[/caption]

A year and a half after floods hit homes near Williamson Creek, some homeowners will be offered a buyout from the city of Austin.

Austin City Council voted June 4 to initiate a voluntary buyout of 63 homes in the area costing no more than $17,986,000, or about $285,492 per home.

Changes were made to the original buyout plan during a June 4 meeting before any vote was taken. Qualifying property owners are required to have owned or rented out the home since before the October 2013 floods, and the property must have been affected by the home during those same floods.

The new requirements may reduce the number of homes eligible for the buyout program from 63 to an indeterminate number. Staff told council they were not aware of how many homes would be excluded from the buyout with those conditions.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, who represents District 9, said she worries about leaving some homes out of the buyout program because the program's intent is to move residents out of harm's way. Excluding some homes may not fully accomplish that mission, she said.

Many council members also voiced concern about future buyouts being subjected to the same regulations and expectations as the Williamson Creek buyouts because there is no formal city policy on how to do a flood buyout.

"I want to make sure we develop a policy so we can equitably and equally handle these issues city wide," District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo said. "My heart goes out to people at risk of flooding but my concern is [the financial strain of treating flood plain area residents equally]."

Staff told council that Austin has 1,550 structures in 25-year floodplains. If buyouts of the same value being offered to Williamson Creek were offered to all other flood plain residents, it would cost about $454 million, according to District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the buyout, with District 2 Council Member Delia Garza absent.