TRENTON – The Senate today passed legislation Senators Bob Gordon and John Girgenti sponsored to provide a $100 million financial lifeline to towns hit hard by infrastructure damages stemming from the floods caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
“September’s floods didn’t just hit families who live in the flood zones hard, but towns also took a tremendous hit in the damages to roads, bridges and other infrastructure,” said Gordon (D-Bergen). “Unless the state steps in to help towns make necessary repairs, these fixes will either have to be shouldered entirely by property taxpayers. And, in those communities that have already tightened their belts as much as possible, they may not get done at all. Neither of those options can stand.”
The bill (S-3099) would authorize a $100 million bond issue to provide grants to local governments for expenses incurred for projects caused directly or indirectly by Hurricane Irene or other weather events occurring during August and September 2011. While the bill would allow the state to authorize the funds, it would not require a bond sale.
“In communities like Paterson, the need to pay for flood-related repairs should not come at the cost of other vital services,” said Girgenti (D-Passaic). “September’s floods stretched our communities to their breaking points, both emotionally and financially, and they need the state to be a partner in rebuilding. They deserve assistance in picking up the pieces.”
The legislation would allow $50 million to be used to provide grants to counties for “emergency transportation infrastructure projects” and “emergency water infrastructure projects.” Another $50 million would be used to provide grants to municipalities to repair infrastructure damage related to the storm events.
The bill passed 22-13, and now heads to the Assembly for further considerations.