More than $1 million in federal disaster aid has been approved for eligible applicants in Vermont affected by the spring storms and flooding that occurred from April 23 to May 9.Since President Obama issued a major disaster declaration on June 15th for these storms in the counties of Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans, over 800 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).The grants include $1,050,536 in housing assistance, such as rental and home repair assistance, and $25,820 in other needs assistance, such as replacement of personal property.Caledonia and Washington counties recently received federal declarations on Friday, July 8, for storms and flooding that occurred May 26th to 27th.FEMA assistance to individuals and families may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and families recover. Those who have experienced damage or loss from the flooding in the designated counties can register for disaster assistance at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Multilingual registration assistance is also available. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585 directly, or 800-621-3362, if using 711 or Video Relay Service. Registration can also be done online anytime at www.DisasterAssistance.gov(link is external) or through web-enabled mobile phone devices at m.fema.gov.The following is a recap of activities and assistance provided by FEMA and its partners:Community Relations: To help identify and assist those who have flooding damage, FEMA Community Relations field specialists have visited more than 2,500 homes, businesses, local agencies and community-based organizations, and houses of worship, and reached out to local officials, the visually impaired, deaf and those with limited English proficiency.Disaster Recovery Centers: Currently, four DRCs are open throughout the state, where those with questions about assistance after the floods can visit with a federal recovery specialist face-to-face. Those looking for the nearest disaster recovery center can check online at https://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/drcLocator.jsp(link is external) or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Low-Interest Loans: The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans to homeowners and renters as well as businesses. Find more information at www.sba.gov(link is external). Job Loss Due To Disaster: You may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance if the storms and flooding affected your ability to work. For more information call 877-214-3330 or visit www.labor.vermont.gov(link is external).Legal Services: If you need legal assistance with home repair contracts, insurance claims and other disaster-related issues, you can call 800-889-2047 for free legal advice. The service is a partnership between Vermont Volunteer Lawyers Project, the Vermont Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and FEMA.FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362 FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail). Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov(link is external) or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/(link is external).
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is sounding the alarm about a possible $77 million deficit just weeks before Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is set to release his 2015 budget. Maragos has warned about projected multi-million-dollar shortfalls in the past, such as above, in 2011. (Jim Mancari/Long Island Press)Nassau County could be facing almost a $77 million budget shortfall this year unless immediate steps are taken, warns County Comptroller George Maragos.Maragos, a Republican, issued the warning in his 2014 mid-year financial projection, which predicts that the county’s operating funds could end with a $76.9 million deficit due to a sharp decline in sales tax revenues, lower state and federal aid and unforeseen spending for police overtime.His dire forecast comes weeks before Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, also a Republican, has to release his 2015 budget on Sept. 15. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), the county’s financial control board, will have the last word on approving the final budget because it took over Nassau’s finances under state law in 2011.“The projected deficit is primarily the result of an estimated $90 million shortfall in sales tax revenues from lower economic activity after the prior year’s surge from Superstorm Sandy recovery spending, and a shift to online shopping,” said Maragos in a statement. “The Administration, NIFA, and the Legislature must find areas to reduce expenses immediately in order to end the year in balance.”According to Maragos, the structural budget gap, which is the difference between recurring revenues and recurring expenses, would “widen to $242 million, from $99.1 million in 2013” and would be “a major reversal in the year-over-year fiscal improvements achieved since 2009.”“Immediate steps are required by the administration and NIFA to cut costs and reduce borrowing so that the county ends close to budget and the other fundamental fiscal trends are not reversed but continue to improve,” warned Maragos. “Swift actions will avoid the unpleasant consequences that will arise from our projections, should they be allowed to materialize.”Adding to the deficit, Maragos explained, is an estimated $90 million shortfall in sales tax revenue. The Mangano administration, however, is estimating a $51 million shortfall, according to Tim Sullivan, the deputy county executive for finance.“The administration is concerned about the recent decline in sales tax revenue, and has retained an independent economic consultant to review the data,” said Sullivan in a statement to the Press. “To keep the budget balanced, a plan was developed to reduce [police] overtime spending through management initiatives and cut funds allocated for supplies, equipment and contractual expenses. The plan has been submitted to NIFA for review.”“This situation is unfortunate, but not surprising,” said NIFA member Chris Wright, who had opposed NIFA’s recent approval of the county’s lifting the three-year wage freeze on four of the five public unions because he thought there weren’t provisions in place to offset the raises with new revenue or appropriate cost cutting.“It’s exactly what was to be expected—and was predicted by objective analysts—when the county added substantially to its cost base in the face of declining revenues. That the county did so with NIFA’s approval compounded the error,” Wright continued.“Double and triple counting amounts from other efforts isn’t a plan,” he added, “and borrowing for operating expenses is a bad plan, which is also completely contrary to NIFA guidelines passed unanimously last fall by the current board.”Jon Kaiman, the former North Hempstead town supervisor whom Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed to be NIFA chairman, had supported lifting the wage freeze with the hope that Nassau would come up with a plan to raise enough revenues to cover $130 million in new contract costs over the next four years.Wright had warned that the new contracts would cost more than that.“NIFA has the tools available to make a difference here, and has initiated a process by which we can,” said Wright. “What remains to be seen is whether we will.”Meanwhile Nassau County remains more than $3 billion in debt, according to the comptroller’s office.And that number looks like it’s only going to rise.