Suffolk legislative group proposes amendments to Bellone budget

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone at a meeting Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone at a meeting in Riverhead on April 30, 2014. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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A bipartisan legislative working group has proposed a package of amendments that will add $22.3 million to County Executive's Steve Bellone's 2015 capital budget and $58 million to his three-year capital plan.

But the Suffolk County Legislature's omnibus resolution also calls for creation of a special committee to review the county's $429 million so-called "pipeline debt" -- where lawmakers approve projects but the county delays borrowing money for construction.

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Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said the extra spending is intended to shore up the county's aging infrastructure and make investments in economic development, especially at the community college. He also said the special committee will report in 90 days and he expects it will recommend cuts to the pipeline debt from 10 percent to 15 percent.

In all, the multipronged legislative amendment, on which lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday, makes changes to 59 county projects. Officials say $8.3 million of the additions next year and $28.2 million over the next three years are for projects expected to get 50 percent or more in state and federal aid for Suffolk County Community College, highways and sewers.

The legislative proposal comes after Bellone recommended a $410.3 million 2015 capital budget -- three times the current year's, and a $789.1 million, three-year capital program, which is $87 million more.

GOP Minority Leader John M. Kennedy Jr. said Republicans agreed to the package only because the pipeline debt committee will offset the increased spending.

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"We are going to shrink it and shrink it substantially," he said.

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