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Senate leader Flanagan opposes bridge or tunnel across the Sound

Senator John Flanagan speaks at an LIA breakfast

Senator John Flanagan speaks at an LIA breakfast on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 in Woodbury. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The state’s top Republican is opposed to building a tunnel linking Long Island to either Westchester County or Connecticut.

In a speech on Friday, state Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport) said, “I’m not going to support a tunnel . . . We have so many other things that we need to do” in terms of state spending on transportation.

His opposition to a Sound crossing, a proposal first made in 1938, is important because Flanagan negotiates the state budget each year with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and two other legislative chiefs.

Flanagan’s comments, to a Woodbury meeting of the Long Island Association business group, came after the release of a feasibility study of a Long Island Sound crossing.

The 87-page report estimated a bridge, tunnel or combination of the two across the Sound would cost as much as $55.4 billion to build. Cuomo earmarked $5 million for the study in 2016.

The report’s authors concluded that a crossing is only viable from Oyster Bay Town or Kings Park, which Flanagan represents.

Flanagan also called for an end to state oversight of Nassau County’s finances, which began 17 years ago: “I think NIFA [Nassau Interim Finance Authority] needs to go away” because county voters have no oversight of the state entity whereas they can vote county leaders out of office.

“I think self-governance and the ability to run a business, and government is a business, is something that they [Nassau’s leaders] should have the opportunity to do,” he said.

Laura Curran, Nassau’s new county executive, vowed “to finally clean up the mess,” saying reforming the property-tax assessment system and stabilizing county finances are “intertwined; we cannot fix one without addressing the other.”

Asked later about Flanagan’s NIFA comment, Curran said she appreciates the senator’s support. “No one expected NIFA to continue for so long,” she said.

Curran joined Flanagan and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for the LIA’s State of the Region event, which drew about 1,000 business people.

Bellone announced that Suffolk has awarded a $338,000 contract to Veratics, a Florida company, to create a web portal for local governments in Suffolk to share services and track such efforts.

The firm, which is owned by a military veteran, also will charge the county $20,022 for annual maintenance of the portal.

Bellone said the initiative will largely be funded by a $300,000 state grant. “It will list shared services, procure shared services and compare costs,” he said, adding the system will be operating within 45 days of contract signing, which is expected in about one month.

Bellone also said Suffolk is backing a bid by Brookhaven Town to win a competitive shared services grant from the state.

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