Last week, in an effort to provide additional assistance to communities struggling to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) led a bipartisan coalition in introducing legislation that will help communities affected by Hurricane Sandy to repair and reinvest in vital water and wastewater systems. The hurricane compounded a challenge that many cities, towns and communities were already facing; replacing aging and worn out water and wastewater systems which are vital to public health and the economy.
The Hurricane Sandy Tax Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 2137), modeled after legislation passed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is aimed at providing tax relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy in Federal Disaster Areas designated by the President. The coalition is supported by Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Michael Grimm (R-NY), John Larson (D-CT), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ).
As a water utility service provider in some of the worst hit regions, we are grateful to Rep. Pascrell and this bipartisan coalition from the Northeast for leading the effort in helping these communities get back on their feet and fully recover from Sandy’s devastation. As Bob Iacullo, United Water Executive Vice President, put it: “Sandy affected residents and businesses in numerous states, including 10 states serviced by United Water. We witnessed the damages firsthand and we fully support these incentives to reinvest in water and sewer authorities. This legislation will help cities and counties affected by Sandy to rebuild the backbone of their communities while creating jobs. A new state-by-state private activity bond allocation for Sandy-affected areas, as outlined in the legislation, will be an essential tool for rebuilding.”
The legislation will complement the federal government’s relief and recovery efforts by enabling municipalities affected by Hurricane Sandy to leverage private capital to reinvest in their communities. By reducing the cost of capital, communities will be better able to manage costs associated with infrastructure investment. The American Water Works Association has estimated that by lowering the cost of borrowing by 2.5% on a 30 year loan, total project costs can be reduced by more than 26%.