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Long Beach would be first to pass balloon ban in Nassau County

City officials said the measure is aimed at protecting wildlife and marine animals from balloon remnants.

People take to the boardwalk in Long Beach

People take to the boardwalk in Long Beach on the first day of summer, June 21, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Long Beach is set to be the first Nassau County community to ban the intentional release of balloons, city officials said.

The city would join East Hampton as the only other community on Long Island to ban intentionally releasing balloons to reduce latex, mylar and plastic from polluting the environment and endangering wildlife.

The Long Beach resolution up for a Tuesday vote would ban the release of helium or “lighter than air” balloons above the city “in order to protect the air, land and waters of Long Beach to protect the wildlife and marine animals against environmental contamination and harm.”

City Council vice president Chumi Diamond said the legislation would add to other measures taken by the city, including enacting a 5-cent plastic and paper bag fee passed in 2017 to keep beaches and the community clean.

“This council is committed to ensuring that our beaches are rebuilt, and I am proud that Long Beach continues to be on the forefront of protecting our environment,” Diamond said.

The release of any amount of balloons would be punishable by a $250 fine. There is an exception for a government agency to release balloons for scientific purposes or weather balloons.

East Hampton passed its balloon ban in February to protect marine life and prevent sea turtles from ingesting balloon remnants. East Hampton fines violators $1,000 or up to 15 days in jail.

The city council also will vote Tuesday night on a resolution to approve $400,000 in bonds to cover a shortfall in retirement and separation payments to former city employees.

The city passed a $1.8 million bond in July to cover payouts in the 2018-19 budget, but unexpected retirements — mostly from the city’s police department — raised payments to about $2.1 million.

The proposed bond covers accrued time, insurance and Medicare contributions for 42 employees with the police department, union workers and city management.

City council members rejected a $2.1 million bond last year to cover separation pay for 58 current and former employees, including a $108,000 payment to former City Manager Jack Schnirman and more than a dozen management employees, creating a budget shortfall at the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The state comptroller’s office is conducting an audit of the payouts and expects to release its report this summer.

The council is set to begin budget negotiations next month on the 2019-20 budget.

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