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Long Island

GOP criticizes Bellone spending plans for East End

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at the Suffolk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at the Suffolk County Police Academy on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Republicans on Wednesday accused Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone of trying to bolster votes on the East End with his promise to spend millions more for town and village police departments over the next few years.

"This is clearly a way for him to garner support on the East End, which in this last election went heavily for Republicans," said legislative Minority Leader Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst).

Bellone announced Wednesday that he would propose spending $8.6 million in 2016 and $9.6 million for 2017 in sales tax money for East End towns and village police departments across Long Island. The county this year spent $6.6 million and in 2015 will spend $7.6 million.

McCaffrey said Tuesday that he supported increases in the 2015 budget, but said Wednesday that he hadn't known the Bellone administration promised to try to increase funding in 2016 and 2017 as well.

McCaffrey said he might support the increase, but "we'd need either increased revenue or reduction in services in other places."

Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) noted that it's up to the county legislature to pass the budget and that Bellone only recommends a spending plan. "To make financial commitments in an uncertain fiscal environment in which we're clearly facing major challenges is totally irresponsible," Cilmi said.

Bellone spokesman Justin Meyers said McCaffrey is "trying to politicize a good government action." Bellone is up for re-election in 2015.

Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), who had a bill that would have tied sales tax funding to population, said he had been negotiating the deal with Bellone for months.

"Anything you do that's positive, you can say is political," Schneiderman said. Bellone "is also doing a lot for Wyandanch and Ronkonkoma and a lot of areas of the county."

McCaffrey noted that Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino received more votes in Suffolk County than Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and that state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) beat Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton.)

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