Jim O’Connor Calls for Fiscal Control Board in Suffolk to Put a Stop to Bellone’s Sweetheart Deal with Police Unions
In response to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s proposed 2016 operating budget that calls for more spending, more borrowing, higher taxes and cuts to much-needed services, Jim O’Connor, the Republican and Conservative Party candidate for Suffolk County Executive, held a press conference on September 22 to call for a Fiscal Control Board — similar to what Nassau has — in an effort to stop Mr. Bellone’s plans to provide salaries to police union members of $227,000 a year.
On September 18, Mr. Bellone submitted the 2016 operating budget in the amount of $2.917 billion. In it, police district taxes would increase by 2.9% and spending would increase by $30 million. This marks the fourth straight year of police district tax hikes; during that time, taxes in the district have gone up approximately 12%, costing Suffolk taxpayers $40 million.
“Mr. Bellone brags that he has held the line on taxes because he hasn’t raised the general fund property tax in four years,” Mr. O’Connor said. “But he has raised police district taxes so that he can fulfill his sweetheart deal to the police unions. This will result in some police union members getting salaries of over $227,000. Mr. Bellone got the union’s donations and taxpayers will get the bill.”
During the press conference, Mr. O’Connor pointed out that New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — who, like Mr. Bellone, is a Democrat — described Suffolk as one of the most fiscally stressed counties in the state. “He also says that the fiscal situation in Suffolk is worse than Nassau’s,” he said. “That is why we need a Fiscal Control Board.”
Mr. Bellone’s budget also proposes a cut in the county bus service from $42.4 million to $36.2 million — a $6.2 million decrease. Mr. O’Connor says the decrease in funding is the result of the police contract. “These cuts to the bus service will be devastating to low-income individuals who rely on public transportation to get to and from their jobs,” he said. “Police union members get a six-figure salary and the working poor will have to walk to work.”
As in previous budgets, Mr. Bellone has resorted to borrowing to pay down the deficit. He is also looking to New York State to provide funding to make up the service cuts in the county bus service. “Once again, Bellone The Borrower is up to his old tricks,” Mr. O’Connor said. “He is relying on one-shots and borrowing to plug the gaps in the deficit and relying on the state for help. That is remarkably irresponsible.”