City officials are again calling on state lawmakers to approve a measure that would allow the city to borrow up to $12 million in serial bonds to not only pay down its deficit, but cover costs associated with Hurricane Sandy.
The council voted unanimously on March 5 to submit a home-rule request to the State Legislature in order to issue serial bonds that would finance Sandy-related expenses that are not eligible for reimbursement with state and federal grants, while also reducing an estimated $10.25 million deficit for the fiscal year that ended last June 30.
The city’s costs associated with Sandy are estimated at $200 million. City Manager Jack Schnirman said that the city is seeking money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which typically reimburses 75 percent of such costs, while the state and city assume the rest.
“We are hopeful … that the federal government will take up 90 percent of the city’s share, and we’ll see what the state will do, giving us a much smaller percentage of the cost-share,” Schnirman said. “This is what we call a match.”
Schnirman acknowledged that the city will likely have to assume some storm-related costs, and the bonds would also cover those yet-to-be-determined expenses. “At the end of the day, there will be some piece of all those costs that come down to all of us,” he said, “and given that we’re all obviously recovering from the storm — all of our residents, all of our businesses — we all know that now is not the time to raise taxes, and now is not the time to start talking about mass cuts in city services [that] obviously we need so much right now.”
He added that he is hopeful that the measure will pass in the current legislative session and ultimately receive Governor Cuomo’s signature.