Garden State officials still wait for official tally on storm damage

More than two weeks after Hurricane Irene caused flooding in New Jersey and left some homes and businesses without power for days, there’s still no total monetary estimate of the damage.

Town officials are hoping the federal government will pay for the costs they incurred in dealing with the storm and its aftermath.

The storm created a budget gap for many towns, said Bill Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities. An exception would allow them to exceed the 2-percent cap on property tax increases because of the storm costs.

“They can do that, but that is the last path that they want to take,” Dressel said. “Elected officials are not desirous of looking at tax increases or service reductions to pick up the slack on what is needed in order to get us back on a sound footing.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are working with local governments to help them with applications to get federal aid, said Dressel. There’s no indication just when they’ll start to get that money.

“At this point I can’t give you a specific date as to when the dollars are going to start rolling into the municipal coffers,” Dressel said Tuesday. “All I can say is everyone seems to be on the same sheet of music and they’re working towards a resolution of this matter.”

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