(September 19, 2014-Hauppauge, NY) Today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced his Recommended Budget of $2.88 billion for fiscal 2015 which is under the New York State property tax cap, continues to freeze general fund taxes, provides for an historic tax freeze in the Southwest Sewer District and dramatically reduces the deficit while protecting and enhancing vital services for Suffolk County residents.
The budget contains no new fee increases. Reflecting efforts to bring Suffolk County back into structural balance, including 1,100 fewer positions than when County Executive Bellone entered office, the budget contains the least “one-shot” revenue since 2010, a decrease of $35 million in use of one-shots from the previous year.
“This budget holds the line on taxes and continues Suffolk County on the fiscally responsible path back into structural balance by continuing to reduce our reliance on one-shot revenues,” County Executive Bellone said. “We must continue to move Suffolk County in the right direction by holding the line on spending and making our government more efficient.”
County Executive Bellone’s budget demonstrates the continued commitment to bring Suffolk County back into structural balance and the progress which has been made since he entered office facing a projected budget gap of approximately $500 million. Three quarters of the budget mitigation measures are considered recurring measures, a stark difference from just six years ago when 70% of the measures were “one-shot” actions.
While earlier this year, a joint presentation of the Executive Budget Office and Budget Review Office projected a $170 million deficit though the end of 2015, this budget enacts a variety of measures that bring the deficit to zero. The budget does so while making a number of fiscally conservative assumptions, including minimal revenue from implementation of speed cameras, no revenue from Video Lottery Terminals and sales tax projections in line with those provided by the County’s consultant, Moody’s Analytics, a national economic and financial risk management firm. The budget does not require the passage of any state enabling legislation.
Among the initiatives in the budget:
Making Government More Efficient:
Suffolk County government today has 1,100 fewer positions than when County Executive Bellone came into office—a reduction of more than 10%— producing a savings of more than $100 million per year. In order to better serve taxpayers while maintaining these significantly reduced staffing levels, additional resources will go into improving performance management, beginning a Countywide quality improvement initiative to allow for data-driven decision making and implementing Countywide training to implement quality improvements.
Improving Water Quality:
While Suffolk County is engaged in the Reclaim Our Water initiative to make major capital investment to improve water quality, the budget contains five additional positions in the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to support those efforts, including positions to staff a three-part plan to address nitrogen reduction through expansion of municipal sewers, cluster treatment systems, and individual advanced on-site sanitary systems as well as two grant-funded positions to implement the requirements of the regional pesticide monitoring plan.
Alternatives to Incarceration:
Recognizing the fact that it costs taxpayers nearly $100,000 per year per inmate, the budget contains the Comprehensive Alternative to Incarceration (CATI) program in the Department of Probation to work cooperatively with major participants in the criminal justice system to enhance and create programs that the Courts can confidently use as alternatives to jail, both at the pretrial stage and sentencing stage.
Funding is included to provide a reliable GPS system throughout Suffolk County, building on the program already implemented in the Department of Public Works, to assure worker accountability and provide the opportunity for additional efficiency measures, such as improved routing.
Combating Drugs in Schools:
The budget creates a new Drug Abuse Educator position to work with guidance counselors at schools to implement a peer education program that will warn/teach students at every level about the dangers of drugs.
Attached is a link to the 2015 Recommended Budget: http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Portals/0/countyexecutive/Budgets/2015RecOperating%20Budget.pdf