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Editorials
What you need to know for 01/21/2017

State needs one-size-fits-all disaster response

State needs one-size-fits-all disaster response

If it's a good idea for one storm's victims, it should be for all

It’s become increasingly clear that the region’s extraordinary weather events of the past few years — mostly resulting in flooding — aren’t going to diminish, but will increase in frequency, if not severity, as the earth gets warmer.

There may not be much we can do about it before the fact, but victimized property owners obviously need all the help they can get as quickly as possible after the deluge(s).

The idea of giving them an immediate property tax break, to reflect the reduced value of their flood-ravaged properties, is a tried-and-true one, and the state Legislature — at its earliest opportunity — should pass bills sponsored by Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara that authorize localities to do so.

Even though the lost revenue will be tough on storm-ravaged communities, cutting assessments (and property tax bills) to the most seriously impacted victims is the proper thing to do. And making victims wait until the next year’s assessment roll is complete, seems unfair.

This issue has come up before, of course — in 2005 and 2007, according to Tkaczyk — and is likely to come up again the next time a hurricane blows through. So, rather than deal with it a la carte with each successive calamity — which is time-consuming and invites inequitable treatment — why doesn’t the state adopt a uniform approach, with predetermined triggers. That way, residents, businesses and their communities are treated equally and there’s no dithering, as is currently the case.

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