We're nearing the four-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, and federal dollars are dwindling for still-rebuilding towns. Governor Chris Christie's Friday announcement that they can apply for recovery reimbursements is welcome news - and the race is on to submit applications for it.

Towns in nine of New Jersey's twenty-one counties will be able to apply for reimbursements from the storm which is a total of $42,000,000 provided by the state.

This should come as good news for local taxpayers who've been sent bills to help pay for these repairs, as money owed will drop to a degree.

"At the time local governments were reimbursed by FEMA for 90% of the cost, (and) had to find a way to pay for the remaining 10% of the cost," said Christie. "For a number of communities that number started to creep close to, and even exceed, a million dollars because of the sheer magnitude of their recovery projects."

The money would essentially cut that 10% off the charts and help stabilize local recovery efforts.

“I’m grateful for the $2-million, I’m happy for it and it’s really going to help us," said Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher.

Among the towns who have become the most eligible for said reimbursements are included below, in information from the Governors office:

Government Entity                                         Eligible Reimbursement

  • Ocean County                                                         $10,000,000
  • Toms River                                                              $2,000,000
  • Middletown Township                                              $1,500,000
  • Brick                                                                        $1,200,000
  • Belmar                                                                     $808,000
  • Little Egg Harbor                                                     $719,000
  • Long Beach Township                                            $634,000
  • Union Beach                                                           $618,000
  • Monmouth County Public Works                           $615,000
  • Manasquan Borough                                              $580,000

“We’re grateful to get $2,000,000,” said Kelaher. “Each of the last three years, we got decreasing amounts. The reason the amounts were decreasing is, as more ratables went back on the books, our need was not that great.”

Toms River can increase its financial flexibility with the added funds, Kelaher reasons.

“Once we get this money, we can crank it into our budget," said Kelaher. "Before October, we are going to be able to have a lot of added assessments come back on.”

The amount would alleviate some of the financial burden taxpayers have shouldered during recovery efforts.

But with another heavy hurricane season predicted for 2016 what could happen with any money leftover?

“I assume that if we had a similar type thing like Sandy, we’d be confronted with the same problems, and have to do the same thing to try and solve the problems that we're confronted with,” said Kelaher.

“We’re doing as much as we possibly can,” said Kelaher. "It’s a complex thing…it’s not just one wave-the-magic-wand answer. A lot of people have insurance, a lot of people don’t. We have a lot of houses with nothing done, because people just can’t afford it."

Christie added that the money involves fewer hurdles."Because the match program is already a component of the state's action plan, the $42,000,000 can be distributed without any further approvals from H.U.D. (Department of Housing and Urban Development)."

H.U.D. had recently eliminated a fourth round of Essential Service Grants, according to the Governor's office.

Today marks the first day towns "who have a 10% match for debris removal projects or emergency protective measures," adds Christie, are eligible to apply for reimbursement funding and they may do so by submitting the paperwork to DCA (Department of Community Affairs) Commissioner Charles Richman.

The applications for local governments to apply must be submitted by October 18.

For more information on the announcement made, watch the video below:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5FixWe8lJI[/embed]

 

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