Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the Middleburgh, Schoharie County, Fire Department today to officially announce the state is picking up $61 million in local government costs for 25 counties damaged by tropical storms Irene and Lee last year.
Counties have been clamoring for the aid, but Cuomo had questioned whether the state could afford the cost. He said today the state and the federal government will pick up most eligible expenses.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency reimburses governments for 75 percent of the cost for disasters. The remaining 25 percent is normally split evenly between the state and the local governments.
The governor said 12 1/2 percent may not seem like a lot, but it is because the damage was so great. “And it’s a lot of money on communities that were already taxed and overtaxed. And it would have caused local communities to have to double in some places their local taxes to pay just for this cost. And every local official said, ‘That we can’t do,’” he said.
Cuomo estimated the total cost from last summer’s storms would be $1.6 billion.
Some counties hit by the storms were not included in the financial package announced by Cuomo, including the lower Hudson Valley and Dutchess County. The $61 million is the first allocation of funds, Cuomo officials said. The state is still going through some of the data and there will be additional funding, they said.
This is video of Cuomo answering questions from reporters after making the announcement: