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Politics and Government

Lake Ontario flood relief bill approved

Payne Horning
WRVO News File Photo
New Yorkers like Fair Haven resident Tom Kirsch are dealing with property damage from this year's flooding along Lake Ontario.

State lawmakers have passed legislation that could provide financial relief for those affected by Lake Ontario flooding. The new bill was approved after weeks of debate between the state Senate and Assembly over how much to spend and whom should be be eligible

The Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway flood recovery and International Joint Commission Plan 2014 mitigation grant program offers $90 million in grants to homeowners, farms, small businesses, non-profits and municipalities to assist with their repairs. It applies to flooding from Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Seneca Lake, Seneca River, Oswego River, Oneida River, Oneida Lake and Cross Lake.

The bill also establishes a fund for local governments to invest in future flood control and mitigation projects, and it allows some damaged properties to get tax assessment reductions. The state funding will only be available after property owners have exhausted any insurance or federal resources. 

Oswego County Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), a cosponsor of the bill, is optimistic about its chances of becoming law.

"The next hurdle to pass is to make sure the governor signs it," Barclay said. 

But Wayne County Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R-Macedon) notes that the bill was not negotiated with the governor's office. 

If signed into law, the grant program will be administered by the Empire State Development Corporation and overseen by several state departments and officials.