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Legislation Lifts Burden For Cleanup Costs Following Natural Disaster off Taxpayer

Legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie this weeks makes for easier cleanup following a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy.

Patch File photo
Patch File photo
Municipalities and counties are now permitted to use storm recovery funds to clear debris after an emergency declaration by the U.S. president or New Jersey governor.

Gov. Chris Christie signed bipartisan legislation into law on Tuesday that allows towns and counties to use the surplus funds to ease the burden of cleanup costs that falls on the taxpayers following natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

Bill A3764 reclassifies snow removal reserves as “storm recovery” reserves. It makes permanent an executive order issued by Christie following Hurricane Sandy.

Following any emergency declaration by the president or the governor, counties and towns may then adopt a resolution that allows those funds to be used for debris cleanup, including snow, ice, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, garbage, trash, building wreckage, sand, mud, silt, and gravel.

Any reimbursement of those funds must be deposited back into the reserve. County and municipal governments will also be allowed to lapse unexpended funds annually budgeted for these purposes to lapse into the storm recovery reserve.

“As we have seen in the last few years, super storms such as Sandy and other natural disasters, including floods and snowstorms, have wreaked havoc on our state. It makes no sense to continue to tie the hands of local officials by prohibiting them from using surplus funds to support clean up efforts in their communities,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Ocean/Burlington/Middlesex/Monmouth), a co-sponsor of the bill. “If we’ve learned anything, we need to give local officials the tools they need to remove hazards from their towns – whether it’s three feet of snow from a snowstorm or trees blown down by a hurricane – by using money in a reserve fund for emergencies.”

The State Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 39-0 on Jan. 9. The General Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 79-0 on Jan. 13.

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