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Bellone issues emergency order further delaying Suffolk County budget

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in Brentwood Sept.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in Brentwood Sept. 18. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued an emergency order Tuesday to push back filing his 2021 proposed operating budget to Friday, three weeks after it was due.

Bellone said in his second such emergency order that officials needed more time to finalize the budget while responding to the coronavirus.

But the delay does not give the county legislature enough time to review the budget, which is expected to include significant spending cuts, officials said.

"There is no reason at this point not to submit the budget today," Minority Leader Tom Cilmi said in a statement.

Bellone noted the county needs more federal aid in response to Cilmi's concerns about the delay.

"The most significant challenge we will confront with respect to the budget is making sure that we have the resources necessary to recover from this natural disaster," Bellone wrote in an email to Cilmi Tuesday morning.

Bellone’s repeated delays appeared to be the first time in county history that the proposed budget was not submitted on time, longtime Suffolk officials said.

The budget was due Sep. 18, under the county charter. Bellone issued an emergency order that day giving him a two-week extension. He missed that deadline and let the order lapse. He signed a new one Monday morning and submitted it to the legislature Tuesday.

Republicans on Monday had threatened legal action if Bellone did not release his budget on Tuesday, but the new emergency order took away their legal avenue, officials said. It was signed Monday morning and submitted to the legislature Tuesday, according to the document and officials.**

The legislature is expected to push back its budget vote from Nov. 4 to Nov. 16, presiding officer Robert Calarco said Tuesday.

That leaves little time before the Dec. 1 deadline under state law for the legislature to complete tax warrants, and any delay could affect when tax bills go out to homeowners, officials said.

The 2020 budget was $3.2 billion. Bellone has said he expects to make significant cuts without more federal aid.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he was against further coronavirus relief package negotiations to determine aid for local and state governments, until after Election Day.

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