State senators create flood recovery plan

By Perry Russom

State senators create flood recovery plan

September 12, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 12:40 AM EDT

Cortland, NY (WBNG Binghamton) With the recent string of severe weather causing damage across the Southern Tier, six New York state senators have a strategy to help in the local rebuilding process.

Sen. James Seward, R-51, is one the people working on the six-point plan.

"We have no doubt seen a change in the weather pattern," said Seward. "We used to think of 100-year floods. They seem to be coming regularly ... quite often."

He said it's vital for the state to help build better protection from floods, streamline response times and ensure financial resources are available.

"I'm in ongoing discussions with the governor's office looking to try to find some assistance for home owners and other property owners in the meantime," said Seward.

Seward said this plan will be targeted for smaller scale storm when the federal government refuses to use its own resources leaving local businesses and homeowners to fed for themselves.

The legislation is expected to be voted on in the 2014 session.

The six-point legislative plan includes:
1) "Funding Emergency Relief Now" (FERN), which would assist property owners when FEMA or other funding is denied by federal government;

2) A refundable state income tax credit against property taxes paid when homes and businesses have suffered damage that reduce their value;

3) State task force on flood prevention and mitigation with regional subcommittees to help communities plan and fund food prevention measures on a regional basis;

4) Enhanced funding through the Environmental Protection Fund for soil and water conservation districts to help local governments plan improved storm water drainage and flood prevention efforts;

5) National Guard-directed and supported construction assistance in communities where flood mitigation measures have been identified, and;

6) Requiring a simplified and expedited reimbursement process for the state share of any reimbursable flood-related costs by local governments. Failure to process reimbursement to a local government within 60 days would trigger bonus payments to local governments to cover their cost of borrowing to cover funding shortfalls.