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Bloomberg, Cuomo Propose Initiatives To Help Residents Hit By Sandy

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TWC News: Bloomberg, Cuomo Propose Initiatives To Help Residents Hit By Sandy
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg to defer property taxes on homes that were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, while Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to expedite insurance claims for people affected by the storm. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Although the flood waters have long since receded, it'll likely be a while before many new Yorkers can get back on solid financial footing. One issue is outstanding insurance claims for badly damaged homes and property.

"It is a historic volume of problems," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "You have 360,000 claims, all coming in at roughly the same period of time."

To help expedite insurance claims, the state is reducing the number of days for adjusters to assess those claims from 15 days down to six. The number of adjusters will also be increased as qualified out-of-state assessors are brought in to help adjudicate claims.

In a separate development, the City Council is teaming up with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to give property owners a break.

Homeowners will be given an interest free extension on their property tax bill. For those with severely damaged properties, the tax bill that was due in January is now due in April.

The city is also proposing partial reimbursement of property taxes, but approval is required by the state legislature for that initiative.

"We know that the relief they'll provide won't make up for all the losses or stresses these homeowners have experienced, but we think they are the right thing to do in helping people get back on their feet," Bloomberg said.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo was criticized for comparing Hurricane Sandy to 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast. There were more lives lost in Katrina by a ratio of roughly 9 to 1.

"In terms of the highest cost is the human toll, and Katrina, obviously, was much, much worse," Cuomo said. "In terms of the impact on homes and businesses, I think this will be worse because of the nature of New York. It's a function of the density here."

Finally, the state will also set up an online report card system to rate the performance of insurance companies. It will be available at www.NYinsure.ny.gov.

Governor Cuomo said he still has no plans to go down to Washington and lobby directly for federal aid the way Mayor Bloomberg did this week. The governor said he is taking his cues from Republican Rep. Peter King on how to proceed.

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