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December 14, 2012

 

DiNapoli Proposes Legislation To Help Local Governments With Storm Costs


State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has proposed a legislative package to help local governments deal with the financial impact of Hurricane Sandy.

“The effect of Sandy on our communities has been devastating,” said DiNapoli. “To help local governments limit further economic consequences, we should provide municipalities and school districts with additional financial tools to reduce the fiscal impact of this storm on local taxpayers. Our communities need help to put the pieces back together.”

While it is hoped that most of the costs associated with the storm will be covered by insurance or federal assistance, DiNapoli’s legislative proposals would amend current laws to provide local governments with the flexibility to use more of their reserve funds to pay the up-front costs for Hurricane Sandy-related expenses until they receive reimbursement, as well as provide direct property tax relief to homeowners impacted by the storm.

The Comptroller submitted four bills this week to the New York State Assembly and Senate. They are:

  • Use of Reserve Funds – Temporarily ease restrictions on the use of reserve funds to allow impacted local governments and school districts to pay for Sandy-related expenses;
  • Permit Property Assessment Adjustments – Give local governments impacted by Sandy the option of providing property tax relief to owners of properties that lost 50 percent or more of their value due to the storm. Property owners of heavily damaged properties could apply to have their assessment and tax liability reduced. Similar legislation was enacted in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
  • Issuance of Storm Bonds – Provide local governments flexibility in borrowing to pay for storm costs. The changes would allow local governments to issue bonds to be repaid over five years. Local governments are normally restricted from borrowing money to pay for non-capital expenses.
  • Extend Repayment of Inter-fund Advances – Inter-fund advances normally must be repaid within the fiscal year in which they occur. This proposal would extend the time for repaying these internal loans.

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