Long Beach petition promotes borrowing plan

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue. Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue. The police station and fire department are attached to the building. (June 21, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

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Three Long Beach City Council members are circulating a petition calling for the State Senate to pass a measure allowing the city to borrow money to plug a budget gap.

The city, which uncovered a $10.25 million deficit in March, had sought state deficit financing so it could borrow the money and pay it back over 10 years at a low interest rate. But a bill to enable the borrowing died in a Senate committee in June.

Council members Len Torres, Scott Mandel and Fran Adelson have started a petition calling on the Senate to "keep politics out of solving our fiscal crisis" and pass the bill. The legislative session begins in January. City officials are considering what to do if the bill is not passed.

Mandel announced the petition, to be circulated among residents and city officials, at the City Council meeting Tuesday. The petition calls on Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the chairman of the rules committee where the bill died, to move the measure forward. The bill has been approved by the Assembly.

"We'd like to present it to Dean Skelos, hoping that he hasn't forgotten about his residents in Long Beach, and to highlight the harsh impact failing to pass this bill will have," Mandel said.

When the Long Beach bailout bill failed, city officials said it appeared Republicans opposed the bill because Long Beach is a Democrat-controlled city and Democrats in the state Assembly had recently opposed a measure to aid Republican-led Nassau County.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Skelos, said the bill failed because Senate Republicans wanted to send a message that borrowing is the wrong way to handle a fiscal crisis.

"It was a Senate Republican decision that we need to get budgets balanced on every level by cutting spending rather than raising taxes or borrowing," Reif said.

Mandel said the petitioners do not have a goal for the number of signatures they would like to gather. City Manager Jack Schnirman, who signed the petition, said the city is also sending a formal letter to Skelos asking him to support the deficit financing bill.

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