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Assembly Approves Flood Buyout Tax Relief Bill

The bill would make towns exempt from paying taxes for flood-prone properties they acquire.

The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill Monday which would protect towns buying flood-prone properties from tax expenses.

Currently, towns like Westwood which are using state and federal grant money to purchase flood-prone homes will be responsible for paying the school and county taxes for the year in which the purchase is made if the properties are bought after October 1.

The bill (A-3362) would exempt towns from having to pay these taxes. It passed by a vote of 74-0 Monday. An identical bill in the state senate has not yet been voted on.

District 39 Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi sponsored the bill.

“The effort to preserve open space should not be derailed because a town cannot afford to assume the obligation of paying a seller’s property taxes," Schepisi said in a press release. "That financial responsibility may thwart an otherwise beneficial transaction to both the homeowner and the town.”

Westwood recently purchased three homes using grant money from FEMA and the state Department of Environmental Protection. The borough spent slightly more than $1 million on the purchases, and officials said they may make additional buyouts with leftover funds.

The purchased homes will be demolished over the next few months.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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