INTERACTIVE: How to pay a $4.5 billion bill

What do a the New York Aquarium, Bellevue Hospital and a wiretapping room for the Manhattan DA all have in common? Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be asking the federal government to pay to rebuild their facilities, and many more, in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Last week, just one day after Congress passed a $51 billion–dollar Hurricane Sandy relief bill, the city’s budget office wasted no time in proposing how New York City will recoup from the federal government its $4.5 billion in Sandy-related spending.

The New York Aquarium and its parent organization seek to claim $75 million from FEMA. Photo: Wildlife Conservation Society/Julie Larsen Maher

The city will be asking the federal government to cover all of the city’s declared costs, according to Lauren Passalacqua, spokesperson in the Mayor’s Office.

So far, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has only committed $520 million in post-Sandy aid to New York State, about $445 million of which is intended for private and government recipients in New York City. These funds mostly cover debris removal and emergency protective measures, costs that were incurred immediately before, during and after the storm.

Bloomberg’s revised budget for fiscal year 2013, which runs through June, shows that the city intends to ask for at least $1.4 billion in all to cover the costs of debris removal and emergency protective measures. The budget also includes about $175 million to deal with damaged roads, bridges, buildings and parks.

City employees will now have to work with representatives from FEMA to fill out the necessary paperwork. Submitting claims to FEMA is frequently be a long and cumbersome process for local governments, which must provide meticulous documentation of every expense to be reimbursed.

The mayor’s proposed capital budget, which is the plan for long-term infrastructure projects, includes an additional $3.1 billion allocated to restore city property that was damaged and destroyed during the storm. Items in that budget include $624,000 to replace a surveillance van and restore a damaged wiretapping room for the Manhattan DA; $75 million to rebuild the New York Aquarium; $77 million for repairs to Rikers Island; about $30 million to shore up the Brooklyn Navy Yard; $48.5 million to fix wastewater treatment plants; and $200 million for the Department of Education.

The agency that will be asking the federal government for the most money is the Department of Transportation, which has over $800 million in Sandy-related expenses.

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