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Moriah borrows to pay storm costs

FEMA help expected

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava welcomed Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Moriah last spring. Cuomo came to see the damage caused by April flooding in the community.

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava welcomed Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Moriah last spring. Cuomo came to see the damage caused by April flooding in the community.

— The town of Moriah is borrowing $500,000 to help cover expenses from major storms that hit the community this year.

The loan will not affect local taxpayers, according to Supervisor Tom Scozzafava.

“This will have no impact on taxes,” Scozzafava said. “The April floods and Hurricane Irene (in August) were real blows to the town. We depleted our fund balance and our operating budget to make necessary repairs. Now we need to replace that money.”

Moriah officials are confident the storm damage will ultimately be paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but that money has not yet arrived and a new budget year starts in a few weeks.

The total bill for repairing damage from the two storms is $416,207 to date, Scozzafava said. There are still a few outstanding bills.

“To the credit of the highway department and Mr. Wilson (highway superintendent Jamie Wilson) they did everything possible to keep (repair) costs down,” Scozzafava said. “There was a tremendous amount of damage.”

The loan is at 1.89 percent interest from Glens Falls National Bank. It is an open loan, which allows the town is pay only the interest until it can repay the principle.

FEMA has promised to reimburse Moriah $402,000 for the April flooding.

The town has filed paperwork seeking FEMA assistance for Hurricane Irene, but has not yet received a formal answer. Officials are confident FEMA will help with the August storm costs.

“We’ll get the money (from FEMA),” Scozzafava said. “It’s a question of when. We need money now, that’s why we’re borrowing. When the FEMA money comes, we’ll pay off the loan.”

Scozzafava said it’s likely the town will receive the FEMA money in installments. If so, the town will pay on the loan’s principle as the money arrives.

Officials believe the FEMA payments, once the Hurricane Irene amount is totalled, will cover the principle and the interest associated with the loan.

Moriah is fortunate, compared to other towns, the supervisor said.

“The amount Moriah is borrowing is relatively small compared to what other communities have to borrow,” Scozzafava said.

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