TOMS RIVER, NJ – Following Storm Sandy in 2012, Jersey Shore communities borrowed millions from the federal government to pay for the cleanup.
These community disaster loans from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have persisted, straining the finances of local governments who have suffered losses on their property tax bases from destroyed homes.
These loans are no longer a problem, however; The government operations bill signed last week by President Joe Biden provided for a loan forgiveness for communities in New Jersey that still owed the federal government money.
Eighteen towns and school districts from Monmouth County to Cape May County still owed the federal government more than $ 25 million, officials said.
That relief was highlighted at a press conference in Toms River on Tuesday, where U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. and Andy Kim joined officials from Monmouth and Ocean counties to celebrate the signing.
“I am proud to have fought and won over $ 12 million in total loan forgiveness for several towns and schools in Ocean County,” said Kim, who represents a large part of Ocean County. “This relief is an important step in healing our communities, but there is still work ahead of us. I will not stop fighting until every homeowner in my district has the financial help they need.
“It is simply unfair to force New Jersey residents to shoulder the burden of paying the millions of dollars they need after a time of crisis,” Pallone said. “I’m glad we were able to get a loan discount to the finish line.”
Kim noted the efforts of U.S. Representatives Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew to request loan cancellation, which helped Atlantic Highlands, Union Beach, Keansburg, Highlands, Avon-by-the-Sea, Manasquan, Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant Borough, Berkeley Township, Toms River, Stafford Township, Little Egg Harbor Township, Beach Haven, Ventnor City and the Central Regional, Seaside Park, Manasquan, Ocean Gate and Tuckerton school districts.
“Super Storm Sandy devastated the Highlands,” said Mayor Carolyn Broullon. “Even all these years later, the borough is still recovering. Forgiving the millions of dollars in community disaster loans is an important step in finally putting Sandy behind us.
“We cannot thank Congressman Pallone and the New Jersey congressional delegation enough for never forgetting Union Beach and the devastation Super Storm Sandy caused to the borough and its residents,” said Mayor Charlie Cocuzza. “CDL’s remission means Union Beach can move forward with its ongoing recovery without the weight of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal debt.”
“The remission of the Community Disaster Loan means our residents will not have to pay millions of dollars on top of the devastation they have already suffered,” said Keansburg Mayor George Hoff.
In Toms River, Mayor Maurice Hill said the township still owed about $ 3 million of the $ 5 million it borrowed as a result of Sandy destroying hundreds of homes and creating millions of dollars. losses for the canton’s property tax base.
The loan cancellation is a huge relief for Toms River taxpayers, he said.
The loan cancellation allows affected cities and school districts to use funds for other priorities, particularly critical in the wake of additional financial strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kim and Pallone said they continued to fight “clawbacks,” where FEMA sought reimbursement from homeowners who received more money than FEMA said they should have received.
“It’s great news that we got the Sandy Community Disaster Loan for Cities canceled in the spending bill that House passed and President Biden enacted the law,” he said. said Joseph Mangino, president of the New Jersey Organizing Project, which has fought for Jersey Shore residents on issues. related to Sandy.
“My town, Stafford, has a community disaster loan,” he said. “It is not only our cities that are being asked to repay disaster relief funding unfairly, it is also individuals like me. We hope that individual recovery will be included in future bills and we stand ready to work. with the families affected by Ida to make sure everyone comes home and whole. “