Suffolk pols see $100M in possible tax hikes, expense cuts

Deputy Presiding Officer Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon) said that Deputy Presiding Officer Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon) said that in their first two meetings earlier this month, the bipartisan committee, which meets in private, considered 25 to 30 options -- including possible tax and fee hikes and other revenue enhancers. (Nov. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Suffolk's legislative budget working group has developed a list of $100 million in potential revenue increases and expense cuts that it said could help balance the county's 2014 budget.

Deputy Presiding Officer Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon) said that in their first two meetings earlier this month, the bipartisan committee, which meets in private, considered 25 to 30 options -- including possible tax and fee hikes and other revenue enhancers.

He said they have come up with a tentative list of about a dozen initiatives that could narrow Suffolk's estimated $180 million shortfall.

Horsley declined to identify the specific options under consideration but said some would require state approval, and all but one involved recurring revenue. Horsley said the budget group will meet again next Tuesday to further discuss options.

The budget working group normally begins work after the county executive proposes his operating budget -- due Sept. 20 -- but Horsley said officials wanted to take a "pro-active stance" by starting early because "everyone agrees 2014 is going to be a difficult budget year."

Horsley emphasized committee members have made "no commitments" on any of the initiatives, and talks so far have been an "airing out session" to get a sense of which options lawmakers might be willing to explore. Horsley said he expects the working group to meet with County Executive Steve Bellone after the next meeting "to talk to them about places the legislature might be inclined to go rather than others."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Reached later, Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset), minority leader and working group member, said he has not endorsed any list and opposes holding any meeting with Bellone before he presents his budget.

"Let the county executive do his job and we'll do ours," Kennedy said, adding that a meeting would "undermine our oversight of the budget, which is our most critical role of the year."

The disclosures on the working groups came after Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) asked for a progress report on the working group, but said the meetings should be open to the public.

"It would help us as legislators to get public input rather than keep things behind closed doors," he said.

Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), budget committee chairman, said the budget is a "messy process" and meeting in private allows us to "leave the politics out and throw everything against the wall without causing hysteria."

You also may be interested in:

More in Suffolk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone talks about the Suffolk budget issues