Lopez Introduces Flood Relief Legislation

March 6, 2007
In an effort to provide relief for victims of flooding in northern New York, Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I – Schoharie) has joined Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R – Guilford) in introducing three bills as part of the “Floods of 2006 Tax Relief” package.

Last year, at the end of June and beginning of July, torrential rains caused massive flooding, and damaged or destroyed approximately 7,500 homes in the 20 counties declared federal and state disaster emergency areas.

“So many lives were negatively affected by last year’s disaster,” said Lopez. “We need to act so that we can prevent a repeat of last year. These people need our help in rebuilding their lives.”

Lopez is a co-sponsor of two important bills in the package. The first would provide real tax relief to property owners, municipalities and school districts by abating taxes on any property damaged by the floods of 2006. The current law in most New York counties states that a property owner’s taxes are based upon the assessed value of their property as of the taxable status date. At this time, property owners are forced to pay taxes on damaged property that is no longer worth its assessed value. Additionally, the difference in lost tax revenue would be picked up by the state, not affecting local municipalities. The second bill would provide grants for repair and give tax credits for flood insurance.

Also included in the package is the “Flood Assessment Relief Act,” which Lopez multi-sponsors. This would provide relief any time a homeowner’s property significantly decreases in value due to flooding.

Lopez has worked with flood victims in the past, including last year when he helped a local homeowner secure shelter and financial aid through FEMA, as well as successfully fought to secure insurance reimbursement for the Town of Afton to repair its highway garage.

“Many people have been left homeless, and many others have had their possessions and memories destroyed,” stated Lopez. “If we can provide relief to these people, we can help them begin to rebuild their lives. We want to be proactive, not reactive, and need to ensure that homeowners and business owners know that there is relief when it is needed.”