State Senate approves infrastructure tax credit for Lake Ontario flood victims

Posted 22 June 2017 at 8:04 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from April 30 shows the waves pounding the shoreline near the Yates-Carlton townline.

Press Release, State Sen. Rob Ortt

State Senator Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) announced the State Senate has passed legislation that would make an infrastructure tax credit available to those affected by flooding along Lake Ontario and other coastal communities across the state.

Ortt sponsors the measure (S6535) that would create a 25 percent tax credit up to $10,000 for the construction of protective structures, or shoreline stabilization projects that would protect homes, businesses and infrastructure from flooding and erosion. The tax credit would apply to property owners, businesses, farms and not-for-profits.

“Flooding due to the disastrous Plan 2014 has created an unnecessary financial burden for families and business owners living along the coast,” Ortt said. “Unfortunately, the devastation these communities have experienced, and for many, continue to experience, could be the new normal. Protective structures could mitigate further flooding, but are costly. This tax credit eases the burden for those planning to rebuild and reinforce their properties.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation would determine what would qualify as a shoreline stabilization project. Protective structures may include barrier walls.

Since spring, serious flooding along Lake Ontario has caused properties to erode, significant damage to houses and infrastructure, and has forced many businesses to close. According to Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse, the high lake levels have caused an estimated $7.48 million in private damages in Niagara County.

The bill now heads to the Assembly.

The governor has recently signed a bill introduced by Senate Republicans to speed up the availability of emergency infrastructure funding for recent flood damage. The funding was approved as part of the 2017-18 state budget. However, it would not have been available until August 18, 2017 – 120 days after the budget’s passage. This new law addresses the urgent need by removing the 120-day waiting period to provide an option for municipalities to seek immediate financial relief from the state.

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