Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks at a news conference about...

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks at a news conference about the probe into a cyberattack on the county's computer system. Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has proposed a $3.7 billion budget for 2023 that includes $8 million in new cybersecurity spending, and funding to hire 200 new police officers while keeping general fund property taxes flat.

The spending plan, released a month after the original Sept. 16 deadline because of a ransomware attack on county government, raises spending by about 1.5% to $3.74 billion, compared with $3.687 billion in 2022.

The spending plan, which requires approval by the Suffolk County Legislature, freezes taxes for the general fund and the police district, which covers the five western towns.

Taxpayers in sewer and other districts may see some increases, administration officials said.

“As a result of many years of hard decisions and more than three years of structurally balanced budgets, I am pleased to report that the county is in a strong financial position allowing us to bolster reserves for the second year in a row,” Bellone said in a news release late Monday.

“This will better prepare the County to weather the challenges that lay ahead,” Bellone said.

The 2023 budget reflected significant improvements in county finances since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Bellone proposed a $3.2 billion budget for 2021 that would have eliminated 500 full-time county jobs, curtailed bus and disability transit services and reduced funding for community clinics, public health agencies and nonprofits.

The proposed cuts were restored later after an infusion of federal pandemic aid and better than expected sales tax revenues.

“This budget fight isn't like the other ones in the past — we've got more money,” legislative Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) told Newsday on Monday.

“It's not a question about what are we going to cut,” McCaffrey said.

Public safety was “front and center” among spending priorities, McCaffrey said.

He noted Bellone's budget would fund two new classes of county police recruits, along with additional deputy sheriff and correction officer positions. 

Legis. Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon), the minority leader, lauded the information technology investments.

“I look forward to working on bipartisan ways to make amendments to the budget,” Richberg told Newsday.

Suffolk County took its websites and web-based systems down after a cyber intrusion was discovered on Sept. 8.

In his budget message, Bellone said the cyberattack “compels us to work together to assess potential vulnerabilities, and to take steps to harden our IT infrastructure to prevent such incidents in the future.”

The spending plan adds $8 million for cybersecurity measures, including positions for 10 cybersecurity analysts and a chief information security officer, Bellone said.

The budget also includes $25 million for services for families affected by the opioid crisis, paid for with multimillion dollar settlements with opioid distributors.

The county is accepting grant applications from drug treatment providers, community groups and county agencies for programs designed to combat the opioid epidemic.

In a truncated process caused by the ransomware attack, public hearings on the budget will be held Oct. 24 and 26, and the legislature’s Budget Review Office is expected to release its report on the Bellone budget on Oct. 28.

The county charter requires the budget to be adopted by Nov. 10, and county officials said they expected to meet the deadline.

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy declined to comment on the budget because he had not reviewed it fully, but expressed concern about how thorough the expedited review process would be.

"In my opinion, it is going to be extremely difficult for the legislature and for BRO [Budget Review Office] to be able to do a comprehensive review and put forward any kind of changes that they might want to make," Kennedy said.

“I have all the faith in our personnel, both in the legislature and in our budget offices,” Richberg said. “Let's roll up our sleeves and sit down and get it done.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has proposed a $3.7 billion budget for 2023 that includes $8 million in new cybersecurity spending, and funding to hire 200 new police officers while keeping general fund property taxes flat.

The spending plan, released a month after the original Sept. 16 deadline because of a ransomware attack on county government, raises spending by about 1.5% to $3.74 billion, compared with $3.687 billion in 2022.

The spending plan, which requires approval by the Suffolk County Legislature, freezes taxes for the general fund and the police district, which covers the five western towns.

Taxpayers in sewer and other districts may see some increases, administration officials said.

“As a result of many years of hard decisions and more than three years of structurally balanced budgets, I am pleased to report that the county is in a strong financial position allowing us to bolster reserves for the second year in a row,” Bellone said in a news release late Monday.

“This will better prepare the County to weather the challenges that lay ahead,” Bellone said.

The 2023 budget reflected significant improvements in county finances since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Bellone proposed a $3.2 billion budget for 2021 that would have eliminated 500 full-time county jobs, curtailed bus and disability transit services and reduced funding for community clinics, public health agencies and nonprofits.

The proposed cuts were restored later after an infusion of federal pandemic aid and better than expected sales tax revenues.

“This budget fight isn't like the other ones in the past — we've got more money,” legislative Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) told Newsday on Monday.

“It's not a question about what are we going to cut,” McCaffrey said.

Public safety was “front and center” among spending priorities, McCaffrey said.

He noted Bellone's budget would fund two new classes of county police recruits, along with additional deputy sheriff and correction officer positions. 

Legis. Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon), the minority leader, lauded the information technology investments.

“I look forward to working on bipartisan ways to make amendments to the budget,” Richberg told Newsday.

Suffolk County took its websites and web-based systems down after a cyber intrusion was discovered on Sept. 8.

In his budget message, Bellone said the cyberattack “compels us to work together to assess potential vulnerabilities, and to take steps to harden our IT infrastructure to prevent such incidents in the future.”

The spending plan adds $8 million for cybersecurity measures, including positions for 10 cybersecurity analysts and a chief information security officer, Bellone said.

The budget also includes $25 million for services for families affected by the opioid crisis, paid for with multimillion dollar settlements with opioid distributors.

The county is accepting grant applications from drug treatment providers, community groups and county agencies for programs designed to combat the opioid epidemic.

In a truncated process caused by the ransomware attack, public hearings on the budget will be held Oct. 24 and 26, and the legislature’s Budget Review Office is expected to release its report on the Bellone budget on Oct. 28.

The county charter requires the budget to be adopted by Nov. 10, and county officials said they expected to meet the deadline.

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy declined to comment on the budget because he had not reviewed it fully, but expressed concern about how thorough the expedited review process would be.

"In my opinion, it is going to be extremely difficult for the legislature and for BRO [Budget Review Office] to be able to do a comprehensive review and put forward any kind of changes that they might want to make," Kennedy said.

“I have all the faith in our personnel, both in the legislature and in our budget offices,” Richberg said. “Let's roll up our sleeves and sit down and get it done.”

Latest videos