N.J. considers $100 million to aid property owners with Sandy damage exceeding coverage

Last month in his budget address, Gov. Chris Christie proposed a fund of $40 million to help New Jersey residents and businesses with damage from Hurricane Sandy that exceeds insurance coverage.

State Sen. Jim Whelan would like to see that fund rise to $100 million.

He’s proposed that some of it could help owners of second homes at the Shore with damages not covered by FEMA.

“Those second-home owners come down on the weekends, and go to the restaurants, and walk the boardwalks, and spend their dollars supporting the amusement rides, etc,” says Whelan, D-Atlantic. “In much of our Jersey Shore, that tax base is derived from second-home owners. So what do those municipalities do when those folks walk away?”

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Whelan said the funds could come from the state’s general fund.

“Frankly, we’re going to borrow from Peter to pay Paul in this situation, but in the context of a $30 billion-plus budget, if we save from here, there and elsewhere, we ought to be able to get to a hundred million,” he said Monday.

Christie has proposed $40 million in the new state budget for Sandy expenses not reimbursed by the federal government, but Whelan says residents in hard-hit areas can’t afford to wait.

“The hope would be we would take the $100 million this year, get it going, and not wait until the budget is adopted in June,” Whelan said. “People need help tomorrow, but hopefully we can get something done this spring.”

State lawmakers are considering the plan.

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