Temporary fixes for fire-damaged park
Suffolk lawmakers have agreed to spend $750,000 to install temporary facilities and begin planning permanent repairs at Cupsogue Beach County Park, which was ravaged by a September fire.
The capital expenditure, approved in a March 3 vote of the county legislature, will pay for a temporary concession stand and restrooms to be installed by summer at the entrance of the 296-acre park, said Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).
The funding will also pay for architecture and engineering for permanent repairs at the barrier island park, which is located at the end of Dune Road west of West Hampton Dunes in Southampton Town, Schneiderman said in a news release.
The September blaze destroyed the entire 5,200-square-foot pavilion area of the park, including a concession stand, showers, bathrooms and first-aid station.
Schneiderman said replacing the structure is estimated to take two years and cost more than $2 million. He said the county's fire insurance may cover much of the cost.
"The fire last year at this historic and beloved building was tragic," Schneiderman said in the release. "The park will reopen this season with temporary facilities providing users the comforts they are accustomed to, and a new facility will rise from the ashes which will accommodate park users for generations to come." - WILL JAMES
Comptroller touts reduced borrowing
Suffolk Comptroller John M. Kennedy sought authority yesterday to issue $75 million in revenue anticipation bonds using federal and state aid as collateral, but told lawmakers that updated revenue projections show he will only need $55 million for cash flow needs.
Kennedy and his fiscal adviser Richard Tortora said the reduced level of borrowing is likely to help the county's bond rating and lower expected interest costs. He said it also could lead the county to stop using the less secure revenue notes within several years.
Suffolk borrows money annually using property tax receipts as collateral to get through the first half of the year when initial tax payments go to schools and towns.
But the financial crisis forced the county, since 2012, to use revenue notes because state and federal aid payments slowed dramatically.
The last time the county used revenue notes was from 1989 to 1992, during a national recession.
Kennedy's fiscal aides said the county needs less money for cash flow because about $15 million in state aid, federal aid and sewer revenues are coming in faster than recent years.
Kennedy said reduced borrowing shows the county is moving in "a positive direction."
He noted that Suffolk last year borrowed $85 million in revenue notes and $115 million the year before.
The county legislature's Budget & Finance Committee approved the borrowing on a 3-2 vote with Republican lawmakers Tom Cilmi and Robert Trotta dissenting.
The full legislature is expected to vote on the proposal Tuesday. -RICK BRAND
Ellison Ave. Bridge repair talk tonight
Representatives from the village and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority today are to discuss plans to replace the Ellison Avenue Bridge.
Officials at the informational session are to discuss a timeline for replacing the crumbling bridge, as well as the expected impact of the work on the community.
The meeting hosted by the Carle Place Civic Association is open to the public. It starts at 8 p.m. at Carle Place High School. - SCOTT EIDLER
Schools chief presents budget
Commack Schools Superintendent Donald A. James has proposed a 1.03 percent budget increase for a total of $185.1 million in spending in the 2015-2016 school year.
The district must stay under a 1.3 percent tax cap, James said. Until more funding information is available from the state, Commack officials won't be able to project what the final tax levy increase will be for residents.
The total budget would be a $1.9 million increase from the 2014-2015 school year.
As presented, 77 percent of the budget would go toward instruction, 10 percent toward general support including administrative, legal and other costs, 7 percent for transportation and 6 percent for debt service.
James said his proposal would keep class sizes about the same. The enrichment program would expand to include seventh and eighth grades.
The plan, presented at the March 12 board meeting, covered spending, not revenue. The district will consider revenue at later meetings when more information is available from the state about how much aid the district should expect.
District officials are budgeting with uncertainty as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seeks reforms in education, promising a $1.1 billion increase statewide in education spending if the State Legislature passes his agenda, including teacher evaluations, adjusting teacher tenure and addressing failing schools, among other changes.
The board will have its next public budget work session at 8 p.m. March 26 at Commack High School. - VALERIE BAUMAN
Village, comptroller honored for finances
The village has been awarded the "Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting" by the Government Finance Officer Association of the United States and Canada.
The award, given to the village for the 19th year in a row, cites its comprehensive annual fiscal report. The finance officer association also presented the village's individual award to Comptroller Michael Schussheim.
"I am thankful to the staff of our comptroller's office, led by Michael Schussheim, for their efforts to be upfront and accurate in the way they report the village's financial information," Mayor Francis X. Murray said in a statement. "This award reflects the value this village's government puts on transparency for the benefit of our taxpayers."
The association, with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C., represents about 17,500 government finance professionals. - SID CASSESE
Street renamed to honor Lee Tatti
Babylon Town has renamed Strathmore Drive in North Babylon in honor of Lee Tatti, a hamlet resident and Parent Teacher Association stalwart for 45 years.
Tatti was the longest actively serving PTA member in North Babylon history, serving in organizations at the Phelps Lane and Robert Moses schools along with North Babylon High School, PTA councils and a number of school booster clubs, according to the North Babylon Teachers' Organization.
Tatti died in 2004. Her service was recognized during her lifetime by the late state Sen. Owen Johnson and Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer -- during his first tenure in the job. After Tatti's death, a scholarship and the auditorium of the North Babylon High School were named in her honor.
After a 5-0 vote Feb. 24, Strathmore Drive, where Tatti lived with her late husband, John, was ceremonially renamed "Lee Tatti Way."
The town board ordered signs bearing that name to be posted above the current street signs. - NICHOLAS SPANGLER
Linda Rozzi named new schools chief
The Babylon Board of Education has named Linda Rozzi, East Islip schools chief since 2013, as the next district superintendent, according to a statement.
Rozzi, 47, is a 20-year educator with 10 years of experience as a superintendent on Long Island. She began her career as an English teacher in the Bethpage school district. Before East Islip, she served as an administrator in William Floyd, South Country and Tuckahoe Common school districts.
During her time in East Islip, Rozzi guided the implementation of a comprehensive district strategic plan that advanced academics, student safety, district finances and facilities, according to a statement released by the district.
Rozzi also supported career academies at the high school level that emphasize the fields of business, medicine, the environment, hospitality and the culinary arts, according to the statement.
Rozzi's contract, approved by the Babylon Board March 9, will pay her $225,000 a year and run through June 30, 2018.
Board of education president Lisa McKeown hailed Rozzi's national reputation for "diligence and dedication to improving education for all students."
Current Babylon Superintendent Richard Rozakis will retire at the end of the school year, a district representative said in an email.
In East Islip, "the board will meet immediately to evaluate and begin to discuss a plan for Mrs. Rozzi's replacement," according to a statement posted on the district website. - NICHOLAS SPANGLER
Animal adoption drive set for April 25
The Islip Town Animal Shelter and Adopt-a-Pet Center will host a Spring Fling adoption drive April 25 from noon to 3 p.m. at the shelter at 210 S. Denver Ave. in Bay Shore.
During the adoption drive, all adoption fees on the shelter's cats and dogs will be paid for by the Live.Love.Bark Dog Rescue.
The drive will also feature a DJ, food and merchant vendors, and raffles for prizes.
For more information, contact the shelter at 631-224-5660. - SOPHIA CHANG