Continuing his focus on economic issues in his run for Suffolk County Executive, Democratic Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone set a goal Thursday of creating 1,000 jobs during his first four years in office by encouraging people to make their homes more energy efficient.
The idea is based on expanding the Long Island Green Homes program he started in Babylon, in which the town pays the upfront cost of the repairs. That money is then repaid to the town by the homeowners according to a formula based on how much they save in energy costs.
Bellone said the funds are taken from the town's reserve. The loss of interest and the administrative cost of running the program are offset by a 3 percent administrative charge.
"This is helping homeowners save money, creating local jobs, and helping the environment," Bellone said in an interview.
Bellone said the Babylon program has retrofitted about 800 of Babylon's homes and has created 64 jobs since it began in 2008. Those jobs include the workers who retrofitted the homes and auditors who assess the homes for energy efficiency. The 1,000-job goal, he said, is based on what he believes is possible from retrofitting 10,000 homes countywide.
At a news conference last month, Bellone also said he wants to create high-tech hubs in low tax "innovation zones." He said Thursday the Green Homes program fits with the emphasis on developing environmentally clean jobs.
He also proposed last month creating a pool of $500,000 from money "languishing" in town Industrial Development Agency reserve funds to provide start-up capital for businesses.
The 1,000-job goal was dismissed by Rick Belyea, spokesman for County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, the Republican candidate for County Executive, who noted that there is no guarantee the program would meet its goal.
"Retrofitting green homes is a very honorable project. But that's your idea for what you're going to tell all those people at job fairs trying to find a way to stay here? That maybe there'll be 1,000 jobs you can apply for?" he said.
Belyea said Carpenter would announce her solutions for improving the economy after Labor Day.