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By ARep | December 6th, 2012 - 5:09pm
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SCHEPISI-CIATTARELLI BILL GIVING TOWNS
ACQUIRING FLOOD-PRONE LAND TAX-EXEMPT STATUS
APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic, and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, exempting flood-prone properties acquired by municipalities from county, school and fire district property taxes for the following tax year was approved by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on Thursday.

Currently, if a municipality acquires such property after October 1, it must pay the county, school, and fire district property taxes owed for all or the remainder of the following tax year.

“The flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy this year, and the devastation witnessed in the aftermath of last year’s hurricane and tropical storm has heightened the awareness of towns that continuously deal with this problem,” said Schepisi. “A municipality should not be deterred from purchasing property from a willing seller because they cannot afford that property’s tax liability.”

Municipalities in the state receive grants for acquiring flood-prone property for conservation purposes under the Blue Acres Program. Towns may also receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a similar purpose.

“One of the best ways to remedy repetitive flooding and provide relief to affected homeowners, whether at the Jersey Shore, or along the Delaware, Raritan or Millstone rivers, is for municipalities to use Blue Acres and FEMA programs to purchase homes in flood-prone areas,” said Ciattarelli. “With that in mind, we should be doing all we can to eliminate impediments and make the Blue Acre and FEMA programs as successful as possible.”

“Conservation programs, such as Blue Acres, or funds received from FEMA for acquiring properties that are chronically subject to flooding, are extremely beneficial in the effort to reduce the impact flooding has on a municipality” continued Schepisi. “The effort to preserve open space should not be stalled because a town cannot afford to assume the obligation of paying a seller’s property taxes. That financial responsibility may thwart an otherwise beneficial transaction to both the homeowner and the town.”

The bill, A-3362, is co-sponsored by Schepisi and Ciattarelli’s Assembly Republican colleagues, Mary Pat Angelini, Scott Rudder, Scott Rumana and Jay Webber and Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Timothy Eustace, Peter Barnes III and L.Grace Spencer.

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