WINNETKA – The Winnetka Village Council took its first step towards saving residents money on their flood insurance premiums by hiring engineering consultants Baxter and Woodman to develop a watershed master plan to improve the village’s flood insurance rating.
Winnetka participates in the National Flood Insurance Program/Community Rating System and is rated as “class 6” under that system. This rating already saves village residents who carry flood insurance on their premiums, but the village would like to improve its rating from class 6 to class 4 in order to capture additional savings.
Winnetka residents with flood insurance policies pay on average of $2,000 per year, with an aggregate amount of $733,000 village wide. By moving the village classification to class 4, the village hopes to save residents 10% — or roughly $200 per year — on their flood insurance premiums. Village engineer Steve Saunders told the council that hiring Baxter for $37,500 would allow the village to recoup its investment in about six months.
Baxter would prepare a watershed master plan relating to the flood plain of the Skokie River. The river flows from northern Lake County and works its way south to Winnetka. To achieve a class 4 rating, the village must adopt a master plan. The master plan would be used to make decisions that would mitigate the impact of future development in the village.
Saunders told the Village Council that Winnetka would be the first class 4 ranked community in the state of Illinois. The village had already reduced its rating from class 9 to class 4 by enacting flood plain management ordinances and provisions in its building code.
Trustee Carol Fessler asked Saunders if this rating would require increased regulations on homes in the flood plain. Saunders said he did not anticipate any changes to the village’s ordinances, given that it already complies with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s flood plain regulations.
President Gene Greable asked whether residents understood the savings on their insurance premiums. Saunders explained that residents would not need to apply for those savings but that they would automatically apply once the village was rated class 4. While residents who hold flood insurance policies outside of the flood plain would also receive a discount, Saunders said it would be a lower amount.
The main beneficiaries of the class 4 rating would be residents who hold flood insurance policies and live in the flood plain.