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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thank you, Legislator Ford
(Page 2 of 2)
The district’s loss of aid — $127,196 in total — will only be magnified after property tax assessments. In devastated areas, the storm has caused house values to decline, and that means that property tax revenues will also plunge.

Many of these families are going to slip through the cracks because they did not have adequate flood and/or home insurance, or do not qualify for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This means that much of their home renovation and rebuilding funds will be coming from their lifetime savings.

The storm caused $4.5 million worth of damage to village-owned buildings, including the schools and the public library. According to recent reports, only $3.5 million will be covered by insurance and FEMA. This means that taxpayers are going to be responsible for at least $1 million.

Who is to blame for the school aid cuts? Who else but the bureaucrats in Albany! The reduction is based on nothing more than formulas that need to be updated. They don’t take into account Island Park’s economic and income status, nor do they recognize how much our home values have plummeted.

Fortunately, there are some leaders who do get it, but most are no better than the majority of lawmakers in Washington who voted against the Sandy relief bill. Thankfully, on Jan. 21, Sen. Chuck Schumer visited Island Park and announced that the final stages of the Sandy Supplemental Bill would be passed.

Bravo! But why did it take so long? Within 10 days of Hurricane Katrina, federal relief checks were issued. Why have New York and the Northeast not had the same treatment?

All of this is truly discouraging for the people of Island Park. Our solace right now is that we have representatives like Ford who are truly on our side.

I trust that Cuomo will join Skelos and Weisenberg in Albany and immediately restore aid to Island Park’s schools. In addition, the aid formulas need to be reworked, and new calculations need to be developed that will compensate districts for the money spent on students displaced by Sandy.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.

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