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New Orleans, SoLa Communities Get Disaster Debt Relief

Debt relief came to a handful of New Orleans agencies on the front lines of disaster response this week. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office announced that she and other lawmakers had cancelled nearly $36 million in Community Disaster Loans (CDL) and adjusted the CDL formula so that $286.7 million in debt was canceled for South Louisiana communities.


The legislation was a provision under the 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which was authored by Landrieu. Among those who received the debt relief were the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, the Orleans Levee District, the Regional Transit Authority and the Orleans Parish Communication District, which handles 911 dispatching.


The towns of Jean Lafitte, Grand Isle and the City of Slidell also saw loans forgiven, according to Landrieu's office.


This bill, which is similar in many ways to last year's Disaster Relief Bill, included facets that were stripped away from December 2012's loan forgiveness measure. Sen. Landrieu's office noted how the prior formulas did not include "necessary expenses" (which were unspecified in the release), omitted budget concerns that extended past the three-year period after the disaster, and even penalized communities for revenues dedicated to certain resources.


Landrieu called it "a great victory," for these communities.


"These communities now have relief from this unfair debt burden which will help them avoid layoffs of essential personnel like teachers, first responders and deputies," the senator said. "As we move forward and more years of data are scrutinized, I am hopeful that additional cancellations will bring more relief to our communities." 


Without this legislation, Landrieu's office said, these communities would have had to repay every penny. 

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