Nassau businesses lose $750 million in Sandy

Luis Estevez, of Rockville Centre, stands in his Luis Estevez, of Rockville Centre, stands in his family's storm-trashed business, Long Beach Food Center, in Island Park the day after superstorm Sandy ripped the door from the establishment and flooded the small grocery. (Oct. 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Amanda Voisard

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Superstorm Sandy will have caused a loss of $750 million in economic activity in Nassau County in just the first two weeks since the storm hit, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos said Thursday.

That figure could grow to $1 billion over the next several months due to the slow pace of recovery from widespread power outages and shortages of gasoline, Maragos said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that Sandy caused a total of about $50 billion in damage and economic lost -- $33 billion in New York State.

The loss in economic activity reflects a drop in retail sales including the purchase of homes, cars, shopping and dining, Maragos said. It does not include the cost to the county from the storm cleanup -- some of which will be reimbursed by the federal government and the state -- or the loss of property, Maragos said.

"The Nassau County economy, government revenues and small businesses have been hit hard by the storms," Maragos said. "Many small businesses may not survive."

There will also be a trickle-down effect to the county's already-depleted coffers. Nassau is projected to lose $30 million in sales tax revenue during the storm's first two weeks and that number could reach $35 million by year's end, Maragos said.

The county was already facing a $25 million deficit for 2012. Maragos said the storm cleanup will increase that figure to $55 million.

Some of the economic and sales tax losses will be recovered next year once the recovery is completed, he said.

Maragos said the county legislature needs to immediately tackle the sales tax decline for the remainder of the 2012 fiscal year, either through short-term borrowing or further cutting expenses and contracts. The legislature, he said, also may have to make changes to the proposed 2013 budget so as not to cause a further drain in the county's reserves.

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