Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 31, 2014

State lawmakers considering flood help bills

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A trio of bills, passed by the state Senate and referred to Assembly committees on Monday, would provide some financial assistance to property owners affected by severe weather, such as Lockport residents in the June 2013 flooding. 

State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, who sponsored all three bills, said the measures would provide immediate help to owners and aid when similar weather events take place in the future.

All three bills passed by a 61-0 vote in the Senate.

“We need to be creative to provide relief to communities and families who are still rebuilding after the floods that hit our region last summer,” Maziarz said. “Through no fault of their own, property owners suffered extensive property damage after the rains and floods hit and unfortunately there simply has not been enough help for them from the government. We are trying to rectify that.”

The first piece of legislation, Senate Bill 5931, would enact the “Mohawk Valley and Niagara County Assessment Relief Act,” which gives municipalities in Niagara County the power to offer reduced assessments for property owners whose property lost substantial value as a result of the severe weather events of last year.

To provide the property tax reduction, a municipality must pass a local law that adopts the provisions of the bill and a school district must pass a resolution as well. The local municipality would decide which properties within that jurisdiction would be eligible for the reduction.

The municipality would also decide what level of reduction a property owner would receive.

The second bill, Senate Bill 5985 would create a state income tax credit for storm victims, the value of which would be equal to the amount of real property taxes paid or incurred on real property that was severely damaged by flooding events.

Thirdly, Senate Bill 5987 would create a New York State Disaster Recovery Program to provide storm relief funds to residents when federal disaster assistance is unavailable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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