Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-120th Dist., and Assemblyman Bob Oaks, R-130th Dist., recently joined efforts to draft new legislation that addresses property damages resulting from recent flooding and record water levels on Lake Ontario.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, nearly 4 trillion gallons of rainwater has flowed into Lake Ontario over the past six weeks.
Unfortunately for lakeside communities, the lake level is projected to rise. Conservative estimates say the lake could rise another 4 inches by June 12, but if more rain comes those lake levels could rise 9-12 inches. Lake Ontario has risen 18 inches since April 12.
High lake levels have flooded the shoreline and caused severe erosion and substantial property damage. Tributaries near Lake Ontario have also been impacted.
In addition to advocating for state and federal financial assistance for damages, Barclay and Oaks are working on legislation to provide assessment relief to reflect damages incurred to these lakeshore properties.
“Assemblyman Oaks and I met and spoke with countless residents in our districts who are concerned about the damaging water levels,” Barclay said. “In addition to fighting for monetary relief, it is imperative that we provide assistance for property assessment relief. Many of these properties have experienced significant erosion and damage, and it is crucial that we help provide some type of mechanism that reflects the damage incurred. Unfortunately, due to Plan 2014, I fear that extreme lake levels will become the new normal, and that is why we will continue our efforts to call on the U.S. government to reject Plan 2014. With the flooding taking place in our area and the flooding being experienced in Canada, all points indicate that this plan must be revisited. Until that takes place, we will do all we can to provide assistance at the local level.”
The legislation is modeled after changes enacted after Superstorm Sandy when property owners suffered losses during the storm’s wake. If it is determined that land has been lost to erosion, local municipalities could reassess the property and reduce taxes for property owners to reflect flood damage. In addition to providing relief for property owners, Barclay and Oaks said the legislation includes a provision for municipalities and school districts to receive state funds to assist with property tax loss localities experience as a result of the flooding.
“Local communities with frontage on Lake Ontario and its many bays and inlets are being ravaged by the continuing record high water,” Oaks said. “This bill allows our communities impacted by the continuing disaster to provide immediate tax relief to those individuals most impacted by erosion and flooding through loss of land and damage to their homes and businesses.”