“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans. ”
~ Ronald Reagan
Anyone not from Long Island, look to Suffolk County Long Island for a glimpse of your future. Suffolk is currently a microcosm of the United States. It is a haven for taxing and spending based on rosy, unrealized future growth. Sound familiar?
The Suffolk County budget deficit is worse than they thought because they anticipated sales tax revenue would grow by 4% and it grew 2.6% and is heading for 1.5%. Sales tax makes up 45% of Suffolk’s general and police fund revenue. I guess the economy isn’t so great then, huh?
It also shows that the legislature needs a new crystal ball when they are counting on revenues predicated on the rosiest scenario possible.
This does not fall on Steve Levy, former Suffolk County Executive, despite some claims by the hacks on the “independent budget panel.” The democratically-controlled legislature (13 Democrats, 5 Republicans) develops and passes the budget. This falls directly on their shoulders. They are going to try and put this on Levy but it’s all on them! Besides, almost $500 mn of it happened after he left!
If the legislature listened to Levy, there would have been a zero deficit in 2011. Levy tried to close or privatize the unaffordable nursing home, suggested job cuts and union healthcare givebacks which would have balanced the budget. The legislators refused to listen so they ended up with a $33 mn deficit. After he left, the 2012 budget deficit was $148mn, the 2013 deficit is $349mn, and now we are looking at a $530mn in projected deficits.
Newsday quoted Legis. Barraga as saying, “…that county reliance on sales tax revenue and its relatively small property tax base, make expense-side cuts inevitable.” Inevitable??? It never happened before.
I hear property tax increases in that statement. Executive Bellone said he won’t raise taxes – we’ll see. Suffolk County currently has the fifth highest property taxes in the nation. Maybe we could be number one, yea!
The other problem of course is the ever-increasing pension costs which will prove unsustainable.
Bellone is going to talk with unions about cuts in healthcare benefits to help save about 500 jobs. I wish him luck but I don’t see them cooperating.
Read about it here: Useless, biased Newsday
Oh, and I mustn’t forget, the Brookhaven Town Supervisor, Mark Lesko, wants to spend $37 mn to buy up more “open spaces” that will eventually house multifamily soviet-style dwellings. Never mind that Brookhaven, part of bankrupt Suffolk County, is also trying to close a budget deficit. NY Liberty Report.