The Federal Emergency Management Administration has approved New York’s request to increase the federal share of Superstorm Sandy recovery costs from 75 percent to 90 percent of the total, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon. The change will save the state and affected municipalities more than $380 million, he said.
Late last month, New York exceeded FEMA‘s threshold of $2.54 billion to qualify for the new funding formula of 90 percent federal funding and 10 percent non-federal for all reimbursable storm-related costs.
In FEMA’s official notice today, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate wrote, “I have determined that the damage in certain areas of the State of New York resulting from Hurricane Sandy during the period of October 27 to November 8, 2012, is of sufficient severity and magnitude that special cost sharing arrangements are warranted…I amend my declaration of October 30, 2012…to authorize Federal funds for all categories of Public Assistance at 90 percent of total eligible costs….”
Cuomo said in a statement that Superstorm Sandy’s fiscal impact has been damaging to local and state government entities. “By reaching this federal funding threshold for post-storm recovery costs, the financial impact will be lowered considerably for the non-federal share of repairing and restoring our communities. I thank our federal partners for approving this measure, which will support our continuing recovery efforts,” he said.
Also today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the four major transit agencies in New York and New Jersey that were most damaged by Superstorm Sandy will receive another $3.7 billion in disaster relief funds, bringing the total Federal Transit Administration funds for Sandy to $5.7 billion. The largest share goes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates New York City subways and buses, the Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road.
The $3.7 billion is for post-storm recovery work ($2.4 billion) and for investments in resiliency projects ($1.3 billion) to make sure trains, buses, stations, subway tunnels and the like can better withstand future disasters. Examples of resiliency projects are elevating storm drains to reduce the volume of water that pours into underground stations, installing higher capacity water pumps and installing back-up power sources for lighting, flood pumps and other necessities.
Democratic and GOP House members from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut said today they will revive an effort to provide temporary tax relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy, Gannett’s Washington Bureau reports. They may find a legislative vehicle in possible congressional action to help tornado victims in Oklahoma. Lawmakers agreed that enacting a standalone tax bill for East Coast victims of Sandy would be difficult.
Legislation could include provisions that would allow homeowners to withdraw money from IRAs or 401k retirement plans without incurring tax penalties, waive limits on deductions for personal losses and permit businesses to expense the cost of disaster recovery and use net operating losses to recover past tax payments.