IL budget delays buyout money in Olive Branch

IL budget issues delays buyout money for Olive Branch

OLIVE BRANCH, IL (KFVS) - With no budget, Alexander County leaders say no checks can be cashed and abandoned homes will be left standing in Olive Branch.

More than four years after the flood waters receded, the state's non-existent budget is slowing the process even more.

"As soon as the check comes in the mail, we are getting a rental van and moving back to Franklin County where I grew up," said Steven Fornear.

He said that's been the plan for three years, but without the buyout money from the state, he has to wait.

Like many of his neighbors, Fornear said he stopped investing in his property soon after the flood because it's only going to be torn down.

"We weren't going to invest a bunch of money in a pump and a liner and then get a check three weeks later saying you got thirty days to be out," he said.

County leaders say they are in a bind too.

"We couldn't sign the contract to proceed with the tear down because there is no Illinois state budget," said Alexander County Board Member Chalen Tatum.

This week, 12 abandoned houses already been bought out were set to be demolished.

"The money was already approved but now they are saying we can't spend any more money until the budget is signed. It was an obstacle I didn't think would get in our way," he said.

Tatum said until Illinois passes a budget, the weeds already covering the abandoned homes will be the only thing moving and folks will just have to continue to wait.

Out of 160 homes and businesses, there are about 120 owners still waiting on their buyout money.

It's still unclear when a state budget will be passed.

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