Assemblyman Otis Helps Secure $200 Million for Water Infrastructure Improvement

tap-waterAssembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the 2015-2016 SFY Budget includes $200 million for the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015 to assist municipalities in funding water quality infrastructure projects. The new grant program was initiated by the Assembly to address the financial crisis that many localities face when securing funding for waste water and drinking water infrastructure projects.

“By allowing municipalities to combine borrowing with state grant monies, the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act will help incentivize local governments to move forward with much-needed water quality projects,” said Speaker Heastie. “I hope municipalities across the state take advantage of this new way to afford these water projects, which are essential to protecting public health and drinking water supplies.”

This novel way to pay for municipal water projects was championed by Assemblymembers Steve Otis of Rye and John McDonald of Cohoes, both former mayors, and advocates for addressing municipal infrastructure costs.

“Governor Cuomo and Speaker Heastie have shown tremendous leadership in helping to meet the water infrastructure needs of local governments throughout the state,” said Otis and McDonald in a joint statement. “This new grant program will make water quality projects more affordable to municipalities and shift some of the costs away from the already overburdened local property taxpayers.”

The Journal News covered the news this week:

Local governments will be able to apply for awards of up to $5 million to repair or replace sewage systems, water mains and other water infrastructure, the often-hidden but costly equipment in need of improvement across much of the state.

“Municipalities don’t apply (for the loans) because they can’t really afford to go into debt for these projects, so they defer them as long as they can,” said Assemblyman Steve Otis, a Democrat and former mayor of the city of Rye. “Our view is we needed to create a grant program and make these projects fly out the door.”