State lawmakers introduce revised Sandy bill

City Council approves home rule request after $12M borrowing deadline passes


A little more than a month after the city's deadline to borrow up to $12 million to cover the costs associated with Hurricane Sandy and an inherited deficit passed, the City Council approved a home rule request at Tuesday's meeting to revive the measure in the State Legislature.

On June 17, the Senate approved a bill that allowed the city to issue up to $12 million in serial bonds, to be paid over 10 years, to finance “extraordinary” Sandy-related costs that are not eligible for reimbursement from state and federal government grants and to liquidate remaining deficits in its general, sewer, water and risk-management funds from 2012. The Assembly approved the measure in April.

But the city had only until June 30 to issue the bonds, which Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said was hardly enough time to secure Governor Cuomo’s signature or float a bond offering.

City Manager Jack Schnirman told the Herald last month that the delay was a minor setback, and had no impact on the city's finances because the 2013-14 budget approved in May did not include deficit financing.

"Unfortunately, that bill passed the legislature at the tail-end of the session, which created an issue with the date, thus necessitating an amended bill to be passed," Schnirman said at Tuesday's meeting.

He added that both Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Weisenberg filed an amended bill on July 25 that extends the city's bond deadline to June 30, 2015.

"That bill has now been filed in both the State Assembly ... and the State Senate," he said, "and as such, they have again requested that we renew our home rule request to accompany it. This is the exact same bill that we passed previously, except with an amended date."

Though the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that it will cover 90 percent of the city's Sandy-related costs, the bonds would also allow the city to cover its portion.

Weisenberg told the Herald last month that lawmakers could vote on the measure if they return to Albany for a special session or in the next legislative session in January.