Senate Panel Approves Bill Providing Tax Relief to Towns Purchasing Flood-Prone Properties
Bipartisan bill to provide tax relief to towns that are acquiring flood-prone homes through the state's Blue Acres program.
A Senate panel on Monday approved bipartisan legislation sponsored on the democratic side by Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace and Connie Wagner to provide tax relief to towns that are acquiring flood-prone homes through the state's Blue Acres program. The bill is sponsored on the republican side by Holly Schepisi and Jack Ciattarelli.
The Senate sponsors of the bill are Robert Gordon (D) and Gerald Cardinale (R).
The bill (A-3362/S-2256) would exempt certain properties acquired by municipalities after Oct. 29, 2012, when Superstorm Sandy hit, from county, school, and fire district taxes for the following tax year.
Municipalities receive grants for acquiring flood-prone property for open space and conservation purposes under the Blue Acres Program. In May, New Milford was awarded $403,075 in state Blue Acres Fund to assist with the acquisition of five homes affected by repetitive flooding.
"The homes at issue are being purchased by Blue Acres funds because of constant flooding and they are now coming off the tax rolls," said Vainieri Huttle.
"Towns should not be left on the hook to pay county and school taxes for a home that is no longer bringing in property taxes because of a delay in processing. This is a sensible way to help beleaguered homeowners and cash-strapped municipalities," she added.
Eustace said that this is a simple solution to allow for towns to plan correctly for next year's budget. "Towns like Saddle Brook have dealt with enough flooding problems over the past few years. They should not have to pay the consequences of higher taxes due to a technicality while we attempt to alleviate the issue for them and others throughout New Jersey," he said.
The funding comes from the state's Blue Acres program, which helps provide for the acquisition of lands in the floodways of rivers, and their respective tributaries, for recreation and conservation purposes. Eligible flood prone properties are those that have been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by, storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage. Blue Acres acquisitions must be from willing sellers.
After a municipality acquires the property, it must be cleared of any homes or structures and returned to open space.
"The acquisition of flood-prone properties has and will continue to be a priority for our State especially in the wake of Sandy," said Wagner. "With towns already being squeezed hard due to post-Sandy recovery costs, this will help ease some of the burden for them."
The bill was approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.