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Superstorm Sandy could wreak financial havoc page 2

 Battered homes in Seaside Heights, N.J. Superstorm Sandy may have another nasty surprise on the way: Higher taxes.
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Date published: 11/30/2012


All three governors are working together to get aid delivered, and Cuomo said most of the recovery should be paid for by the federal government.

"To try to finance (recovery costs) through taxes would incapacitate this state," said Cuomo, who noted the cost of repairing just one subway station in lower Manhattan will be $600 million.

Christie--who this week announced his campaign for a second term amid high poll ratings for his handling of the storm and who is considered a leading potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016--has told residents in storm-damaged areas to expect to pay higher taxes. This month, he told communities they can exempt storm recovery costs from a state-imposed 2 percent limit on property tax increases.

"You know, it's got to be paid for," said Christie, whose constituents already pay among the highest property taxes in the nation. "There's no magic money tree. But I think most people's towns will recognize that if they believe that the money is being spent reasonably and responsibly to rebuild their towns, they'll be happy to do it."

Vinny Curtain, whose Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., home was damaged by flooding, agreed--reluctantly.

"Every town up and down from Long Island, Staten Island to Long Beach Island is dealing with this," he said. "They're all going to face the same problem. If spending continues--and it has to--and the tax base goes down, you've got to make it up from somewhere. It's got to be paid for. It's definitely a concern."

With local towns reeling and state governments equally cash-strapped, many are looking to the federal government to make things right through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the arm of government that has paid out billions in disaster recovery funds for Midwestern floods, tornadoes and Hurricane Katrina, among others.

But politically, Sandy couldn't have come at a worse time, with Republicans and Democrats locked in a bitter standoff over spending and taxes as a series of painful automatic tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" looms if lawmakers can't agree on a deficit reduction plan. Lawmakers from states hit hard by Sandy are eager for the White House to make its emergency request to Congress for more Sandy money.

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