Suffolk GOP chief on Bellone treasurer plan: It's 'political payback'

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone talks about the Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone talks about the county's budget problems and solutions during a press conference in Hauppauge. (April 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Ed Betz

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Suffolk County's Republican leader is calling Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone's plan to eliminate the office of the elected treasurer "political payback" for once running against Bellone.

Bellone wants to place a referendum on the November ballot to consolidate the offices of Treasurer Angie Carpenter and Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, both Republicans, into a new chief financial officer's department. He says the move would save $1 million a year by cutting seven management jobs.

Term limits bar Sawicki from running for re-election when his term expires at the end of 2014, but Carpenter is seeking a new four-year term this fall. She lost to Bellone in the 2011 county executive race.

"It's hard to believe this isn't political payback against Angie Carpenter because she ran against him," Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said of Bellone's proposal.

Carpenter could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Bellone has said his push "is not about party. This is not about politics. This is about government efficiency and protecting taxpayers." He noted that Suffolk is the last of New York's 62 counties to elect both a comptroller and treasurer.

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The administration was expected to introduce a bill to authorize the referendum at Tuesday's county legislature meeting. It is expected to be voted on at the July 30 meeting.

Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer said he believed Bellone's proposal came simply from a desire to reduce the county's projected $250 million budget deficit.

"The county executive is trying to review all the options that will help him reduce the deficit. Ultimately, it'll be up to the legislature as to whether they want to proceed with this or not," Schaffer said. "If they have other ideas that would save money, as opposed to this, they should propose them."

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