The 2016 Recommended Budget is in
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

File photo

The 2016 Recommended Budget is in

Story By: STEVE BELLONE
9/24/2015


On Sept. 18, I submitted my Recommended Budget of $2.917 billion for fiscal 2016, which is under the New York State property tax cap, freezes general fund taxes for a fourth straight year, and provides for a historic, double-digit tax cut in the Southwest Sewer District.   Because Suffolk County is complying with the New York State tax cap program by both holding the line on taxes and demonstrating operational savings through its Government Efficiency Plan, all households earning less than $500,000 will receive a dollar-for-dollar rebate, so they will not pay a penny more in taxes.

This budget holds the line on spending by increasing total expenditures by just one percent, while protecting and enhancing vital services for Suffolk County residents.

My budget continues to move Suffolk County in the right direction by holding the line on taxes, streamlining government and making smart investments in growing our economy.  The formula for long-term fiscal health is simple—hold the line on taxes, control spending, and grow the economy to create good jobs.”

This budget demonstrates my continued commitment to bring Suffolk County back into structural balance and the progress that has been made since I entered office.  Nearly 80 percent of the budget mitigation measures are considered recurring measures, a stark difference from 2011, when two-thirds of the measures were “one-shot” actions.  Many of these items were included in my Government Efficiency Plan, which allows Suffolk County residents to receive tax rebates, including saving more than $1.5 million per year by merging the redundant offices of treasurer and comptroller and transitioning Suffolk County health centers to a private-sector provider, saving approximately $77 million over five years.

In addition, this budget also contains funding to help implement the Comprehensive Master Plan, which was recently unanimously approved by the Suffolk County Legislature.  This plan, the county’s first since 1971, provides the framework for sustainable growth and resiliency and for economic development that will help to retain and attract businesses and create jobs for Suffolk County residents. 

Among other initiatives in the budget:

Making Government More Efficient: Suffolk County government today has 1,100 fewer positions than when I came into office—a reduction of more than 10 percent—producing a savings of more than $100 million per year.  This budget supports the Continuous Improvement Initiative, which empowers county employees and improves productivity through a training program begun this year in partnership with Stony Brook University.

Improving Water Quality: Suffolk County is engaged in the largest expansion of clean water infrastructure in decades by successfully leveraging state and federal aid and has received approval from FEMA to begin Phase I of the project.  Suffolk County has also begun piloting improved on-site systems for homeowners with the goal of approving those systems in 2016 for use throughout the county.

Tax Cut in Southwest Sewer District: This budget contains a 12.5 percent tax cut for residents of the Southwest Sewer District.  Households in the Islip portion of the district will see their taxes fall an average of $75, while Babylon households will see taxes fall an average of $65.  At the same time as taxes are reduced in the district, $6 million in projects will be paid for out of operating funds, reducing the district’s borrowing and keeping it on strong financial footing.

Investing in our Regional Airport: Suffolk County will embark on a partnership with the Town of Islip to invest $1.5 million in Long Island MacArthur Airport and create new routes to spur economic development as well as better market the airport.

Reducing Crime and Opioid Abuse: By investing in programs that reduce the jail population, Suffolk County was able to temporarily avoid a $300 million expense of building and staffing a new jail.  But that mandate would return if the jail population rises in the years to come.  This budget invests $500,000 to sustain and launch programs that prevent crime, tackle the opioid epidemic, reduce recidivism, and safely reduce our jail population.  It also continues to make critical investments in reducing crime, which is already down by 20 percent since I took office.