The Suffolk County Legislature met on Tuesday in Riverhead, and county executive hopeful Steve Bellone announced his candidacy the following day. Take a look here to recap this week's happenings on the county level:
Bellone, Suffolk Dems, Start County Exec Campaign
Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone, long considered the Democratic front runner to run for a this fall, .
Standing near his alma mater, North Babylon High School, the 41-year-old made his announcement following a six-week listening tour across the county.
“We live in a county that is lacking only strong and inclusive leadership,” he said, adding “by listening and leading we have done it in Babylon and we will do it in Suffolk County.”
Later Wednesday night, Bellone from across the county. County Democrats, rallying behind Bellone as the GOP considers a few candidates for this fall's election, realized being first to announce a candidate doesn't necessarily give them an edge unless they act.
"We can party and celebrate here tonight," said Rich Schaffer, the chair of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee. "But if we don't take this energy outside this room and go out and do what we should do to deliver this message that Steve just delivered here tonight, we will fail. And failure is not an option."
Legislature Declares Legacy Village Land Surplus; Other Cost-Cutting Measures Laid Out
In an effort to plug a projected budget shortfall next year, which the County Legislature Budget Review Office says could reach $180 million, six county legislators — three Republicans and three Democrats — proposed a series of cost-cutting measures they say could save more than $100 million next year.
Among the proposals — the only one already approved by the entire legislature — is a surplus declaration of 247 acres in Yaphank. The land had previously been part of a mixed-use project called Legacy Village, which would have held affordable housing, retail, office space, and recreational facilities.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy already stated his intent to veto the proposal, though since the measure passed the Legislature, 13-5, a veto override could be possible.
Levy said that should the land not be used for Legacy Village, it could make for a casino location.
Mark Smith, a spokesman for Levy, offered the following: "We support allowing maximum flexibility for the property, including our continued negotiations with the Shinnecocks, but object to the clause that kills Legacy Village before we know what the Shinnecocks will do."
For a recap on the other cost-cutting measures offered — including a lag payroll proposal and a suggestion to privatize the county's marinas — click .
Legislature Approves Website Tracking Crack Houses
After a measure to table failed to pass by an 8-9 margin, a proposal by Legislator Kate Browning, WF-Shirley, to create a website tracking crack houses passed, 10-7.
The resolution calls for establishing a "public nuisance" website, using chapter 270 of the county code to determine a public nuisance. According to the code a wide variety of activities having occurred more than once at one premises within three years — from assault in the first degree to prostitution to drug sales — would fall into the definition of a public nuisance.
According to the text of the resolution, the website would be updated on a monthly basis.
Legislature Overrides Vetoes on Community College Capital Improvement Bonds
After Levy vetoed three bond resolutions for various projects at Suffolk County Community College totaling $4.65 million, the legislature fulfilled Presiding Officer William Lindsay's promise of an override.
With three 17-1 votes (Legislator Tom Barraga, R-West Islip, in dissent), the Legislature overrode vetoes for bonds on the following projects:
- $3 million for cooling systems throughout the campuses
- $655,000 to renovate the Peconic Building at SCCC's eastern campus
- $500,000 to plan a Health and Sports Facility at SCCC
In his veto statement, Levy said, "If the Legislature is indeed serious about controlling debt, it sometimes has to say 'No' and this project is one place to start ... this is just not something the taxpayers of Suffolk County can afford at this time."
Previously, Lindsay had stated earlier versions of the resolutions were originally proposed by Levy but were later withdrawn, saying the funds were needed to fund a bus liability case.