Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed a series of new laws designed to continue the State's support for ongoing Superstorm Sandy relief efforts.
Nearly one year ago, Superstorm Sandy hit our state, causing damage and loss that continues to be felt by communities today, Governor Cuomo said. Since then, we have taken many steps to rebuild not only in the short term, but also to take measures that prepare New York State for the future. From providing tax relief to homeowners and essential assistance for local governments to protecting our coastal areas, these new laws will move us forward on the path to a full recovery and ensure that we build back stronger than before. I am pleased to sign these four bills and commend the bill sponsors for their hard work.
The legislation signed by the Governor today includes:
Permitting Retroactive Property Tax Assessments for Storm-damaged Properties
The new law (A.8075 / S.5849) signed today by the Governor would permit local governments to pass laws to allow retroactive downward adjustments of property tax assessments to account for losses in value due to Superstorm Sandy damage.
Under existing law, local tax assessors are permitted to prospectively adjust the assessed value of property for tax purposes but there is currently no legal authority for them to make retroactive adjustments. As a result many homeowners hit hard by Superstorm Sandy received property tax bills in January 2013 that were based upon the pre-storm value of their properties and did not reflect losses in value attributable to storm damage.
The new law will provide for retroactive assessments and allow a tax refund or credit to be issued to any property owners as a result of any downward assessment in the value of his or her property. In order to qualify for such reduction, a property owner must make a written request to the assessor within 90 days of today's signing.The new law does not apply to New York City and takes effect immediately.
Senator Phil Boyle said, "This legislation demonstrates what government can and should accomplish. Working across party lines to assist New Yorkers in their greatest time of need."
Assembly Member Bob Sweeney said, This new law has brought us another step closer to helping those who were devastated by the Superstorm. Property owners will be spared from paying full taxes on homes that are no longer there or were no longer habitable after the storm. This is a simple matter of fairness. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for honoring his commitment to the victims of Hurricane Sandy."
Giving Sandy Affected Communities Additional Year to Pay Back Municipal Fund Advances
The new law (A.5549 /S.4725) signed today by the Governor will give localities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy an additional year to repay municipal inter-fund advances provided to cover expenses related to storm recovery. Generally, municipal inter-fund advances must be paid back by the end of the fiscal year in which the advance was made. Under the new law, local governments receiving inter-fund advances for Superstorm Sandy recovery purposes will be permitted to repay the advances by the end of the next fiscal year succeeding that in which the advance was made. The new law takes effect immediately.
Enabling Local Governments and School Districts to Use Reserve Funds for Sandy Recovery Expenses
The new law (A.5550/S.4726) signed today by the Governor will allow local governments to use money in capital reserve funds for expenses related to recovery from the effects of Superstorm Sandy
Generally, transfer and expenditure of money from reserve funds must be approved by public referendum. Under the new law, local governments and school districts will be able to use the funds to cover costs related to Sandy recover with the condition that the reserve fund be reimbursed with interest over a period of five fiscal years. The new law takes effect immediately.
Assembly Member Bill Magnarelli said, "Superstorm Sandy was a devastating event for the State of New York and many hard hit communities are still recovering. These two pieces of legislation will give local governments the flexibility they need to continue the recovery and rebuilding process."
Enabling Community Preservation Funds to Help At Risk Shorelines
The new law (A5939-A/S.4104-A) signed today by the Governor will require towns within the Peconic Bay region East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold to consider areas at risk of storm erosion as part of programs financed by a community preservation fund to preserve undeveloped shoreline.
Community preservation funds are designed to protect the state's areas of natural beauty from excessive development, and this new law will expand the criteria for space that can be protected by these funds to include shoreline at risk of coastal flooding due to projected sea level rise and storms.
The new law takes effect immediately.
Senator Kenneth LaValle said, "The Community Preservation Fund (CPF) has been an extremely successful land protection program. As sponsor, I am pleased that the Governor has signed this legislation expanding the powers of the CPF to include preservation of underdeveloped beaches and shoreline at risk of coastal flooding due to storms and projected sea level rise. As we approach the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, it is fitting that we take this step to conserve our beautiful and pristine beaches that not only act as a buffer to protect our coastal communities but also represent an emblematic symbol of Long Islands east end."
Assembly Member Fred Thiele said, "In 1998, the New York State authorized the towns of East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold to establish Community Preservation Funds to preserve land for open space, farmland preservation, historic preservation and park and recreation purposes. The Community Preservation Fund has been one of the most successful land protection programs in the state, generating more than $850 million to preserve more than 10,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it was recognized that there was also a need to further ensure that we also protect lands that are at risk of coastal flooding and sea level rise. These sensitive lands are critical to the future of our local coastal communities. I thank Governor Cuomo for approving this important addition to this successful program."