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Bellone Announces Balanced Budget Under Property Tax Cap

Categories: County Executive | Author: emoltzen | Posted: 9/21/2012 | Views: 6494
Budget Increases Spending Less than 1 Percent, Freezes General Fund Taxes, Avoids Additional Layoffs

(September 21, 2012-Hauppauge, NY) Today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced his Recommended Budget for fiscal 2013 which is balanced, is under the NYS property tax cap, reigns in spending, freezes general fund taxes and does not contain any new layoffs.  Bellone's first County wide operating budget comes just six months after County lawmakers received a report stating that Suffolk County faced a projected three-year budget shortfall of approximately $530 million and learned from Comptroller Joseph Sawicki that the 2011 deficit was approximately $60 million.

County Executive Bellone noted that the foundation of this balanced budget was built on the difficult decisions made in conjunction with the Legislature, including reducing the size of the County workforce by 658 employees in 2012 and the recent decisions to sell the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility and surplus land in Yaphank.  Bellone noted that for the County to return to fiscal stability, it will be necessary to continue to hold the line on spending, which is why his recommended budget increases spending by less than one percent, despite huge increases in health care, pension costs and mandates.

"Six months ago, we faced a half a billion dollar deficit, today we are offering a balanced budget under the New York State tax cap," County Executive Bellone said.  "While we are making the tough choices to address the problems that have accumulated over the years, we must remain vigilant.  My proposed 2013 budget is balanced, holds property taxes under the New York State tax cap includes no general fund tax increase and will not lay off any additional employees.  Despite rising mandated costs, we will hold spending increases below one percent by making government more efficient and continuing the work of streamlining departments. I look forward to working with the Suffolk County Legislature to enact this fiscally responsible budget."

The 2013 Recommended Budget includes $70 million in revenues from sale-lease back of County facilities.  If it were not for the inherited $70 million deficit, largely attributable to the 2011 deficit, the County would not consider sale-lease back as an option.  The County will continue to explore other options to reduce the deficit and lower the amount of a sale-lease back arrangement below the $70 million included in the budget.

Among the initiatives in the budget:

•           Sewer Consolidation: The budget includes funding in the County Executive’s Office for a professional services contract related to fully exploring cost savings and operational trade-offs from pursuing a change in sewer district operations. The Executive and Legislature will work closely-- any proposal, sale, or memorandum of understanding related to a change in sewer operations will have a full public vetting and will require Legislative authorization.

•           Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs: The Departments of Labor and Consumer Affairs have been merged into a new Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs. This merger will provide a coordinated approach to labor and industry, promoting the health, safety and economic well-being of both the business community and public.

•           Improving Cost-Effective Public Safety: The budget contains funding for a new 75 person police class to begin in September which correlates to the projected number of retirees from the police force.  There is also funding to restore civilians to the police department who retired in order to ensure there is not costly, reverse civilianization in the police force.  The budget also provides funding for a new 25 person correction officer class in the Spring of 2103.

•           Medical Examiner’s Office/Crime Lab:  The budget provides for funding required to create an independent department for the Medical Examiner.  Funds have been included for a new Chief Deputy Medical Examiner, a full-time Forensic Scientist IV, and a Senior Budget Analyst.

•           Yaphank Correctional Facility:  The New York State Committee on Corrections approved a phased opening of the new expanded correctional facility in Yaphank to alleviate operating budget pressures and modification to staffing levels in the jail medical unit providing additional budgetary savings.

•           Expanding Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC): Suffolk County will expand on the successful transition of the Elsie Owens Health Center in Coram to Hudson River HealthCare which is an FQHC.  The FQHC model shifts the costs for medical malpractice from the County to the Federal government. In return, the Federal government sets productivity standards for health centers which must be met, such as the number doctor-patient visits, and requires ancillary services such as dental care. The County has been unable to achieve these types of services and standards due to staffing and budget limitations.  By expanding additional health centers to FQHCs, we can assure that enhanced services will be provided at a lower County cost.


Suffolk County Mitigation Measures

in Millions of Dollars

Adjustments to Fiscal Analysis Task Force Findings                          $102.00

 

(Sales Tax, Energy Cost Reductions, Restoration of Aided Positions)

 

Phase I Budget Mitigation                                                                            $117.00

(Pension Amortization, Embargo of Funds, Bonding of Equipment, Traffic Violations Bureau/Red Light Camera Expansion, Transition to FQHC Model for Health Center Operations)

 

Phase II Budget Mitigation                                                                          $110.70

 

(Sale of John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, EMHP Agreement, Sworn Officers)

2013 Recommended Operating Budget Mitigation Measures

Sale-Lease Back of County Facilities                                                      $70.00

Bonding of Correction Officers Settlement                                             $37.00

Staff Reductions/Overtime Reductions                                                  $65.30

 

Revenue Increases (Property Tax, Sales Tax, Assessment                   $40.90

Stabilization Reserve Fund)

 

Sub Total of 2013 Recommended Budget Measures                     $213.20

 

 

Total Suffolk County Budget Mitigation Measures                           $542.90

 

 

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