Rep. Zeldin Secures Vital CDBG-DR Extension in Congressional Spending Bill to Save 3 Local Sewer Projects
WASHINGTON - In the past two weeks, as Congressional funding was being negotiated, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) worked closely with House and Senate leadership, as well as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to secure an extension of the September 30, 2022 deadline for the use of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to September 30, 2023. This will save three local sewer projects in Suffolk County: Carlls River, Patchogue River and Forge River.
“The coronavirus outbreak has impacted so many aspects of our way of life, and our response must include saving local infrastructure projects that have experienced unexpected delays as a result of the pandemic,” said Congressman Zeldin. “These local projects are critical to our quality of life in Suffolk County, and I’m honored to deliver this huge win to ensure these projects get across the finish line. I’m grateful for the help of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for doing their parts as well to make this a reality.”
The CDBG-DR program was established by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 to provide billions of dollars to improve disaster preparedness in communities in the aftermath of SuperStorm Sandy. Under current law, there is a hard deadline of September 30, 2022 for the expenditure of CDBG-DR.
Several of the projects funded through these programs broke ground, while others were expected to begin construction soon, according to the timelines that existed prior to the onset of COVID-19. Many of these projects were on track to meet the requirements to utilize federal funds in full by the 2022 deadline. However, COVID-19 resulted in unexpected delays. Labor contracts and supply chains have further complicated the long lead times needed to implement these large-scale infrastructure projects, putting the funding of these projects at risk because they are unlikely to be able to meet the current deadline.
In Suffolk County, the Forge River, Patchogue and Carlls River sewer projects are part of the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative (SCCRI), which has been allotted $67 million in CDBG-DR funds in addition to $243 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds.
While the Forge River project itself is to be constructed with FEMA/HMGP funds, the Forge River, Patchogue and Carlls River sewer projects that are part of the SCCRI are tied together and interdependent because the Benefit Cost Assessment (BCA) that justifies use of HMGP funds for the Forge River project relies on the higher BCA rankings of the Carlls River and Patchogue projects. Those projects rely in significant part on CDBG-DR funds, but their higher BCA ranking elevates the cumulative BCA ranking of the three projects, making the use of HMGP funds for the Forge River project possible. For this reason, it is critically important to the Forge River project that the CDBG-DR funding for the other 2 projects be protected.
In July, Congressman Zeldin and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D, NJ-9) urged the House Committee on Appropriations to extend the use of funds for CDBG-DR, which was subsequently passed by the House in H.R. 7617.