State: Long Beach can borrow $12M to aid Sandy recovery
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ALBANY - State legislators gave final passage to a bill Monday to allow Long Beach, one of the municipalities hit hardest by superstorm Sandy, to borrow $12 million to speed its economic recovery.
The State Senate, in a 56-0 vote, approved a measure to permit the city to issue bonds to help it cover lingering debts.
"The City of Long Beach was one of the most devastated areas affected by superstorm Sandy," Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said in a memo filed with the bill to authorize the borrowing. "As a result of the storm's destruction, the City of Long Beach has been left with extraordinary expenses for projects which are not eligible to be reimbursed from the state or federal government grants."
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The State Assembly passed the measure in April. The bill will now go to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for approval or veto.
"This is good news for Long Beach taxpayers as we all recover from superstorm Sandy," said Long Beach City Council President Scott J. Mandel. "This will provide relief both for our fiscal and physical recovery."
But Councilman John C. McLaughlin, the panel's lone Republican, called the bond bill "a year past due," and said the city might be better off attempting to pay off its deficit without borrowing.
"Are they going to rescind the tax increase?" he said. "That's an important consideration."
McLaughlin was referring to a 14.5 percent tax hike that was executed in two phases in 2012. That year, a proposal that would have allowed Long Beach to borrow up to $15 million died in the State Legislature. Skelos blocked the 2012 measure, but said Sandy made circumstances different this year.
This year, Long Beach is raising taxes 1.5 percent.
With Patrick Whittle