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The Real Cost of Superstorms

It's not just cleaning up the mess they leave behind, it's the fact that by blowing away houses, they diminish the tax base that supports local schools.

In the January 25th edition of the New York Times, Alison Leigh Cowan writes: "(Superstorm Sandy)damaged tens of billions of dollars' worth of real estate, especially in coastal areas of Long Island and New Jersey. As a result, localities can no longer expect to reap the same taxes from properties that have lost much of their value--in some cases, permanently.

"Without new revenues, these areas may have to make deep cuts in spending on schools, police and fire departments and other services." Big cities are much less reliant on property taxes than are the types of coastal suburban communities that were hardest hit by Sandy.

Cowan quotes New Jersey government official Michael Drewniak as saying, "It's a pretty inescapable conclusion that there will be an impact on the tax base. In many instances, we had homes completely wiped out or severely damaged to the point they were rendered uninhabitable. That left behind rebuildable land but, in the meantime, no 'improvements' to tax. In other cases, people may find it cost prohibitive to rebuild at all, depending on their individual circumstances."

She quotes housing official Ester Bivona as saying, "Absolutely, this is going to be devastating for several years."

Whitley and Art Bell saw this coming, which is why they wrote the book that gave Sandy her name, which was made into a major motion picture.



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