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Long Island Regional Planning Council gets $250,000 from Suffolk IDA

A rendering of proposed buildings on Railroad Avenue

A rendering of proposed buildings on Railroad Avenue in the Ronkonkoma Hub project, near the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station. Photo Credit: Tritec Real Estate

The Long Island Regional Planning Council, which has struggled financially for several years, has received a lifeline from Suffolk County.

The county's Industrial Development Agency agreed last week to provide $250,000 to support council studies of alternatives to the property tax and the economic impact of a proposed transit-oriented redevelopment project near the Long Island Rail Road station in Ronkonkoma.

John D. Cameron Jr., the council's chairman and a local engineer, said soaring property taxes are undermining the economy. "If we don't deal with this property-tax issue, it will be game over," he said.

The IDA money also will be used to update an economic development strategy report used by local governments to apply for federal funds and to improve the council's Internet initiatives, Cameron said.

The aid will be part of the council's 2015 budget of $639,000, which also includes $132,000 from New York State. The council, which has existed in some form for more than 40 years, tackles big issues such as development, housing and education through research and recommendations.

The council hopes to secure $250,000 from the Nassau County IDA. The council was established by the two county governments and has been funded equally by them.

Joseph J. Kearney, executive director of the Nassau IDA, said he had talked with Cameron and was awaiting a detailed funding request.

"It would be a contractual relationship with deliverables and timetables for those deliverables," Kearney said, referring to studies that the council might do.

The Nassau and Suffolk IDAs, whose money comes from fees charged to businesses seeking IDA tax breaks, each provided $125,000 to the council in 2013. Earlier, in March 2011, the administration of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano withdrew $200,000 in aid because of county budget woes. The move imperiled the council because Suffolk responded by phasing out its support, too.

Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone have said recently that funds for the council should come from the county IDAs, not taxpayers.

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