19 Aug 2014
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Romaine: Sequester Could Delay Sandy Aid

Town Supervisor says if federal government fails to reach an agreement by Friday, Brookhaven could be weighed down by Sandy's costs.

Romaine: Sequester Could Delay Sandy Aid

It was four months ago that Hurricane Sandy tore across the area, ripped apart beaches, took down trees and left some $24 million in damage across Brookhaven.

As town officials continue working to fix the damage caused by the historic storm, Supervisor Ed Romaine is now concerned that the current sequester battle in Washington, D.C., could delay much needed federal funds to cover the cost of repairs. 

"Anything that will slow down payments or reduce the federal commitment after we thought we already had one will certainly impact our budget," said Romaine, a Republican.

Brookhaven officials had been anticipating reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency of 75 percent of the town's total Sandy repair costs, with the state kicking in an additional 12.5 percent. 

While the town works to make repairs from damage related to Sandy, any delay in payments from FEMA, which come through New York State, could lead to additional costs or possible delays in the completion of certain projects.

In recent days, President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans have had no discussions on how to avoid sequester, the term used for $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts that would be triggered on March 1. 

The supervisor admitted that he has not been following federal negotiations that closely. He noted that $85 billion is less than 1 percent of the federal government's budget and he expects Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, to keep local leaders informed.

"Things tend to travel down hill, we are at the bottom of that hill at the lowest, most basic level of government, which is town government. We hope there are people above us who understand we are trying to provide basic services and respond to hurricane damage," Romaine said. 

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