ALBANY – Top political leaders in New York put their heads together Monday on big requests for federal disaster aid as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Superstorm Sandy ran up a bill of $32 billion in the state and the nation’s largest city.
The cost is for repairs and restoration and does not include an additional accounting of over $9 billion to head off damage in the next disastrous storm, including steps to protect the power grid and cellphone network.
“It’s common sense; it’s intelligent,” Cuomo said. “Why don’t you spend some money now to save money in the future? And that’s what prevention and mitigation is.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had announced earlier in the day that Sandy caused $19 billion in losses in New York City — part of the $32 billion estimate Cuomo used.
New York taxpayers, Cuomo said, can’t foot the bill.
“It would incapacitate the state. ... Tax increases are always a last, last, last resort.”
Cuomo met with New York’s congressional delegation to discuss the new figures and present “less than a wish list.” The delegation, Cuomo and Bloomberg will now draw up a request for federal disaster aid.
States typically get 75 percent reimbursement for the cost of governments to restore mass transit and other services after a disaster.
The most basic recovery costs for roads, water systems, schools, parks, individual assistance and more total $15 billion in New York City; $7 billion for state agencies; $6.6 billion in Nassau County and $1.7 billion in Suffolk County, both on suburban Long Island; and $527 million in Westchester County and $143 million in Rockland County, both north of New York City, according to a state document used in the private briefing of the delegation and obtained by the Associated Press.
Hard times were already facing the state and city governments, which were staring at deficits of more than $1 billion before Sandy hit in late October.
State tax receipts have also missed projections, showing a continued slow recovery from a recession that could hit taxpayers in the governments’ budgets this spring.
And there’s the looming fiscal cliff, the combination of expiring federal tax cuts and spending cuts that could rattle the still-recovering economy.
“Make no mistake, this will not be an easy task, particularly given the impending fiscal cliff and a Congress that has been much less friendly to disaster relief than in the past,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.