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State senate passes bills that would help flood victims

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - The New York State Senate has passed four bills aimed at improving response and providing relief to Mohawk Valley residents still dealing with the aftermath of flooding.

State Sens. Joseph Griffo, David Valesky and James Seward had a news conference Wednesday morning to announce some of the details. Their hope is that the legislation will help ease the burden of property owners and help prevent future floods from causing so much damage.

"This is will be a big step forward for us in the state of New York and in our immediate area to help, not only in rebuilding efforts, but also help us better prepare for future high-water events," said Seward.

The Mohawk Valley and Niagara County Assessment Relief Act would provide a property tax reduction for those taxpayers in eligible counties whose property improvements were substantially damaged by the flooding that occurred between June 20 and Aug. , 2013. To provide the relief, a municipality must pass a local law that adopts the provisions of the bill and a school district must pass a resolution. The bill is being sponsored in the assembly by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.

Another bill would provide a credit equal to the 2013-14 school taxes and 2014 city, village, town and county taxes on any primary residence that received substantial flood damage between June 20 and Aug. 9. Flood victims must live in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Tompkins, Cortland, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben or Niagara counties. Brindisi is sponsoring the bill in the assembly.

The third bill would create a supplemental fund to provide individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation after a natural or man-made disaster. Aid would be available for a variety of disaster-related expenses, including home repairs and medical expenses. Municipalities would be eligible to receive funds for items such as public services expenses and debris removal. Infrastructure grants would be available to public schools. Upon a disaster being declared, the bill would require the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to establish a field office at the disaster site and provide relief workers. The agency would also create a disaster recovery center and toll-free phone number to help those affected apply for assistance. In all instances, grant applicants would receive funds within one month. Loan applicants would receive funds within two months. To ensure the maximum number of people are helped, aid and loans would not be offered to anyone provided money by their insurance company or the federal government. In the assembly, the bill is being co-sponsored by Assemblyman William D. Magee, D-Nelson.

The final bill would establish the Upstate Flood Mitigation Task Force, a nine-member body comprised of experts in hydrology, civil engineering, climatology, emergency management and soil and water conservation. The group would conduct an in-depth examination of environments and economies that could be negatively impacted by flooding, the cost impact of flooding over the past five years and any procedures in place for flood response. It would also create an  upstate flood mitigation grant program, which would use available federal and state funds to offer grants to prevent and mitigate flood damage. Brindisi is the assembly sponsor.

All the bills passed the senate by a 61-0 vote. The bills must now pass the assembly.

 

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