County Executive Steve Bellone said Wednesday that the legislature should act on two bills to address the looming budget crisis through a voter referendum. Experts say the county faces a “catastrophic” budget crisis because of the loss of revenues to the Covid-19 pandemic.
If approved, both proposals would be placed on the ballot in November.
One of the two proposals would shift part of Suffolk County sales tax revenues from the drinking water protection program. The second one would permit changes to an agreement involving a sewer stabilization fund.
Experts say the county faces a deficit of up to $590 million in 2020 and $1.5 billion through 2022.
Bellone said, “I’ll tell you what I don’t want to, I wouldn’t want to be in the position of being a Legislator who’s got to tell an employee, “Oh, you know, we had to do layoffs. You know, this was too tough to do. This thing that doesn’t impact any programs, any taxpayer, doesn’t require layoffs, I’m sorry.” Or to say to a taxpayer, “You know, sorry. You know, we had to, we had to do one of the mitigation measures that the [County Legislature’s non-partisan] budget review office suggested, so we’re going to have to raise sales tax, raise energy tax.””
The video interview was done with Denise Civiletti of RiverheadLocal last week.