Barclay and Oaks Push for Legislation Assisting Lakeshore Residents
May 16, 2017
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski) and Assemblyman Robert C. Oaks (R,C-Macedon) have joined efforts to draft new legislation to address property damages incurred as a result of flooding and record high water levels on Lake Ontario. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, over the past six weeks nearly 4 trillion gallons of rain water has flowed into Lake Ontario. Unfortunately for lakeside communities, the lake level is projected to rise. Conservative estimates say the lake could rise another 4 inches by June 12 but if more rain comes, those lake levels could rise between 9-12 inches. Lake Ontario has risen 18 inches since April 12. High lake levels have ravaged communities--flooding the shoreline and causing severe erosion and substantial property damage. Tributaries near Lake Ontario have also been impacted. In addition to advocating for state and federal financial assistance for damages, Assemblymen Barclay and Oaks are working on legislation to provide assessment relief to reflect damages incurred to these lakeshore properties. “Assemblyman Oaks and I met and spoke with countless residents in our districts who are concerned about the damaging water levels. In addition to fighting for monetary relief, it is imperative that we provide assistance for property assessment relief. Many of these properties have experienced significant erosion and damage and it is crucial that we help provide some type of mechanism that reflects the damage incurred,” said Barclay. “Unfortunately, due to Plan 2014, I fear that extreme lake levels will become the new normal and that is why we will continue our efforts to call on the U.S. Government to reject Plan 2014. With the flooding taking place in our area and the flooding being experienced in Canada, all points indicate that this plan must be revisited. Until that takes place, we will do all we can to provide assistance at the local level,” said Barclay. "Local communities with frontage on Lake Ontario and its many bays and inlets are being ravaged by the continuing record high water. This bill allows our communities impacted by the continuing disaster to provide immediate tax relief to those individuals most impacted by erosion and flooding through loss of land and damage to their homes and businesses," said Assemblyman Oaks. The legislation is modeled after changes that were enacted following Superstorm Sandy when property owners suffered huge losses during the storm’s wake. If it is determined that land has been lost to erosion, local municipalities could reassess the property and reduce taxes for property owners to reflect flood damage. In addition to providing relief for property owners, Barclay and Oaks said the legislation includes a provision for municipalities and school districts to receive state funds to assist with property tax loss localities experience as a result of the flooding.