Demanding Answers: Massive Cost Overruns For New York City To Rebuild After Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are disturbing revelations about New York City’s efforts to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.

With the fourth anniversary just days away, there are massive cost overruns and a startling price tag to elevate homes to prevent flooding.

CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reports it’s not only about the huge cost overrun, but how Mayor Bill de Blasio dealt with it, moving funds from various pots without getting City Council approval.

City Council members, the comptroller and good government groups all have questions, too.

“I’m very angry because it’s personal for us,” said Councilman Mark Treyger, D-Brooklyn.

Treyger is furious about how de Blasio has handled the Sandy “Build It Back” program. There’s the sudden discovery of $500 million in new cost overruns, and the fact that contractors are demanding nearly $1 million just to elevate each home in the storm area.

“There is absolutely no justification. We’re getting ripped off here,” said Treyger. “They’re spending over $1 million per home to elevate homes that are worth about $300,000. It doesn’t make sense.”

City Comptroller Scott Stringer also wants answers. His office is worried about the ballooning costs of the program and what he said is a diminished number of people getting help.

“All of these questions have to be answered because at the end of the day we want to make sure that the people who suffered after Sandy don’t have to continue to suffer at the hands of the government,” said Stringer.

“The lack of transparency around this move and spending half-a-billion dollars is increasingly typical of the de Blasio administration, which prided itself on being the most transparent administration,” said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.

Demanding answers, CBS2’s Kramer questioned Amy Peterson, the head of the mayor’s “Build it Back” program.

Kramer: “A million dollars to elevate a home?”

Peterson: “So, we’ve gotten bids at that number and we recently threw out a whole group of bids and are moving forward.”

Kramer: “So when you got a bid of a million dollars to elevate a home, what was your reaction?”

Peterson: “Well I think it is a surprisingly high cost and it’s important to us to make sure we know what we’re paying for and we’re getting the right price and we’re able to get these homeowners home.”

While the city said it is trying to renegotiate the price, it may be difficult because by their own admission they’re the victim of a hot construction market which drives up costs.

“So the bids that came in sort of averaging a million dollars, it’s important the we rebid those,” Peterson said.

The City Council plans to hold a hearing on the “Build It Back” program on Thursday.

Council members are expected to ask pointed questions about the cost overruns and why they weren’t consulted before taxpayer dollars were moved to cover the extra costs.

The de Blasio administration claims it had the leeway to do it.


One Comment

  1. Maxine Wilde says:

    As a Federal and State and City of New York taxpayer, and as a victim of Sandy who has not benefitted from the Build It Back system, I have a question I would like to see answered at tomorrow’s hearing. Only the tiniest minority of taxpayers and only a portion of Sandy’s victims have benefitted from BIB. But every one of us – whether we benefitted or not – has contributed our share to the Federal tax dollars providing new homes from the ground up, raisings, cosmetic improvements, new siding, roofs, kitchens, landscaping and elevators, just to name a few, costing hundreds of thousands – as much as almost $800,000 for one bungalow in New Dorp Beach – per home. Now we are told that a minimum $500million dollar cost overrun in New York City must be covered. The question is: exactly where is Mayor DeBlasio taking that money from? Which agency budgets will be cut? Is it coming out of schools? Law enforcement or firefighting? Sanitation? Parks? Is it going to come from increased taxes on an already tax-burdened citizenry? Or might it come from limiting promised resiliency projects? I hope that the City Council will come away from tomorrow’s hearing with a detailed statement that, in a spirit of transparency, will be shared with the taxpayers ultimately paying the bills.

  2. Fred D. says:

    This is ridiculous and why people hate politicians. For $500k you could build a new raised home. If you gave that $1mil per home to an organization like Habitat for Humanity they would find a why to build three new homes.

Comments are closed.

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