Flood buyback plan resurfaces

Rotterdam councilman eyes program for severely flood-damaged homes

— Some Rotterdam homeowners had urged local officials to offer a buyback program in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, but the discussion turned stagnant. Now, the proposal is bubbling up again.

Councilman Robert Godlewski on Monday, Oct. 8, submitted a legislative request to Rotterdam Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi urging the town to participate in the state buyback program for properties damaged by Irene. Godlewski is proposing the town focus on the lowest assessed properties for the program and tap $100,000 from FEMA reimbursements.

“The town could have an opportunity to get rid of these properties because they are an eyesore,” he said. “More importantly, it would help these people get out from a situation where they are trapped.”

The federal government would cover 75 percent of the cost to buy out a home, with the town covering the remainder. The town would be responsible for covering expenses for razing any property, too.

The town can offer participating homeowners up to the fair market value of the property before flood damage. An appraiser hired by the town would determine the fair market value. Any property the town purchases through the buyout program could never be placed back on the tax rolls. The property also could not be redeveloped in any way, Buffardi said.

“That property would never be allowed to be taxed again, ever,” Buffardi said. “There is a larger component here regarding taxes in the future that would forever be a drain on the public.”

Godlewski contended the properties wouldn’t be valuable again.

“The value of those properties are not going to go up again,” Godlewski said. “You got 10 homes you are not going to have any tax revenue from.”

Godlewski said he was “led to believe” additional FEMA reimbursements would be divided out to “other projects.” The town is receiving a total of around $525,000 from FEMA.

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