Long Beach seeks state help to pay off debts

Long Beach City Hall on March 28, 2013. Long Beach City Hall on March 28, 2013. Photo Credit: Tara Conry

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The New York State Senate Monday approved a request from Long Beach officials to pass a bond bill that would let the city borrow up to $12 million to help pay off a deficit and its debts from superstorm Sandy.

The Assembly is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday, said Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), who sponsored the bill. Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

A 2013 outside audit determined the city's operating deficit, which grew under a previous administration, for fiscal year 2012 was $9.2 million.

The city has since balanced its budget, but the bond bill could allow Long Beach to scale back or eliminate a yearly property tax surcharge of about $183 per household, officials have said.

The bond bill is a step "towards providing relief to homeowners struggling to recover from the storm, and it provides us a potentially useful tool to help our finances recover," city manager Jack Schnirman said.

The passage of the bill would help Long Beach fix a mistake that killed a similar bill in June.

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State legislators passed the bill in June after Long Beach made a bond request to pay off debts. But the city was required to issue the bonds by June 30, and missed the deadline because of the short time frame, officials said.

A home rule message approved by Long Beach in August, which requested the bond bill, stated that the bonds must be paid back over 10 years.

Weisenberg said the ability to borrow would help the city recover from superstorm Sandy.

"Many people have still not recovered from the devastation that hit them," he said.

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