On the Right Path

Steve Bellone

Earlier this year, a Blue Ribbon task force that I appointed to examine Suffolk County’s budget crisis informed us that we were facing a three-year budget deficit of $530 million – a shocking number that was far worse than we could have imagined.

With your support, we have taken the tough measures needed to pull our county out of this mess and avert a fiscal disaster. In just the past few weeks, I am proud to say that we have taken important steps to move Suffolk County forward including unanimous, bipartisan support for a contract with the PBA. And I am particularly proud to say something many thought unthinkable several months ago—I introduced a balanced budget which stays within the New York State tax cap and does not contain any additional layoffs.

Here are some of our accomplishments:

My proposed 2013 county budget is balanced, maintains vital services, provides efficiencies by consolidating some departments and stays within the state’s property tax cap;

Negotiated an historic, 8-year contract with the Suffolk County PBA that will save taxpayers $43 million immediately and provide long-term savings by making it more affordable to hire new cops into the future. This is the first contract to be negotiated in more than two decades and breaks the cycle of arbitration that has proven way too costly for taxpayers in Suffolk County;

Worked with all Suffolk County unions to agree on a new health care plan which not only saves $17 million per year, but ensures that for the first time in history that future Suffolk County employees will pay directly into their health insurance;

With new leadership, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency has begun aggressive new programs to recruit new businesses, like the Boost program, and for the first time has a website;

We won approval from the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create a new Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, which will allow us to provide more efficient adjudication of tickets and keep more dollars in Suffolk County.

These are just some of the things we have done to put our county back on the right path. My administration has done this with a smaller staff than any other county executive in many years and we have maintained services even with more than 600 fewer county employees than just one year ago.

Yet, for all of these accomplishments, there is hard work ahead to provide long- term structural balance to our budget, to create jobs and opportunity for everyone in Suffolk County, and to make sure our success in doing more with less in county government continues.

Throughout this effort, your support, well wishes and confidence in my administration and me remain a source of tremendous strength.

I want you to know I will continue working hard for you each and every day.

Very yours truly,

Steve Bellone