John M. Kennedy, Republican candidate for Suffolk County executive, launched his “fiscal reality tour” Monday in Huntington, criticizing fees and a decline in bond ratings.
Kennedy, the Suffolk County comptroller, was accompanied by several Republicans, including Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, two candidates for county legislature and two candidates for town jobs.
He said that the county payroll had gone up by $100 million even as the workforce has been reduced by more than 1,000 people. He said County Executive Steve Bellone had been relying on fiscal gimmicks to make the budget work.
“We have been bleeding red ink,” Kennedy said. “We have never been closer to the margin when it comes to covering daily operating expenses.”
The county has gone through seven downgrades in bond ratings while adding fees for mortgage recording, tax map verification, pet grooming, cremations and others fees, Kennedy said.
His first task in office, Kennedy said, would be to balance the county budget, in part by reducing personnel costs. One of his targets would be county land planners, he said, because they do work that is determined by town employees. He also said county government should run as efficiently as town government.
The press conference took place in front of the vacant former Oceancrest Diner on Route 110.
Lupinacci said, “John Kennedy understands the importance of investing in our infrastructure to bring the Route 110 corridor back to its status as the driving force behind a booming Long Island economy. He knows it’s a necessary step in encouraging private investment and bringing good jobs back to Long Island to help our residents stay here to raise their families and retire in the communities where they’ve spent their entire lives.”
A Bellone spokesman told Newsday that, “The county executive is proud to have stayed under the property tax cap in every year of his administration while never raising the county tax. He stands by his record.”