County Executive Steve Bellone’s Blooper Reel Gets a New Highlight
The Bellone administration’s astonishing overestimation of 2015’s sales tax revenues is about to blow another hole in Suffolk’s fiscally stressed operating budget, according to Jim O’Connor, the Republican-Conservative nominee for Suffolk County Executive.
“Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Suffolk would see its sales tax collections increase 4.87% this year while a meager uptick of only 0.65% constitutes reality, based on mid-year projections made by the county Legislature’s budget analysts,” Mr. O’Connor said.
Suffolk County currently has a recurring structural deficit of $176 million. Legislative budget analysts are concerned that his most recent overestimation will increase the deficit by another $71 million, meaning Suffolk’s expenditures would outpace its revenues by $247 million — that is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.
When Bellone took office in 2012, the county executive called for a federal probe of the prior year’s (2011) Suffolk County budget because the sales tax revenues did not come in exactly as predicted by a previous administration. It was seen as a publicity stunt by Bellone that did not materialize into anything.
“If Steve Bellone were running the U.S. Justice Department in 2015, and reading from the same script Bellone used in 2012, the county executive would himself be the subject of a federal probe,” Mr. O’Connor said.
There has never been a case where Suffolk’s projected sales tax revenues come in exactly as estimated in a particular budget. There is always an up or down margin of error since it is simply an estimate or projection of revenues that might be collected.
Nonetheless, Suffolk’s taxpayers are faced with a dilemma: Have their taxes raised again by Bellone, or watch him institute yet another fiscal gimmick like selling off the county building where his office sits, only to lease the building back over 30 years.
It is the type of fiscal gimmickry that put Nassau County on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s time for a real fiscal manager to be back on the 12th floor of the H. Lee Dennison Building, even if the county’s taxpayers no longer own that building, thanks to Steve Bellone’s fire sale of public assets — a direct result of his inability to balance the county’s books.