Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Monday unveiled a $192.6 million capital budget for 2018 and a $1.055 billion three year capital plan.
The budget is $27 million, or 12 percent, smaller than last year’s capital plan, while the three-year program is $19 million less than the current multiyear plan.
“This plan cements our fiscally conservative approach by keeping the issuance of bonds under $100 million,” said Bellone. He said his 2018 proposal includes only $95.8 million funded through bonds, an 18 percent reduction.
Despite the spending reductions, Bellone said he will fund more than $300 million in projects for the Southwest Sewer district using the sewer district stabilization fund rather than bonds.
Included is a $200 million project to replace the outfall pipe, with construction to begin construction this fall. The project will use Environmental Facilities Corporation financing as a partial alternative, if needed.
“I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Legis. Kevin McCaaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), arguing that Bellone has done little to close the budget gap between recurring revenues and expenditures.
McCaffrey, minority caucus leader, said that although he hadn’t yet seen the capital plan, “we have to take a hard look at his spending.”
McCaffrey also expressed concern that residents of the sewer district seem to be bearing “the burden of paying for the sewer outfall pipe alone,” although it benefits many areas outside the district.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said he had not yet been briefed Bellone’s capital proposal, but emphasized the importance of maintaining county infrastructureBellone said his 2018 capital budget has a 32 percent increase, to $46.7 million, for highway work. That includes $18 million for road repairs and $19.1 million for bridge repairs.
He also proposed $1.5 million for a temporary span over County road 39 for the 2018 U.S. Open golf tournament to be held at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton. Bellone said the event will provide the county with a major economic benefit.
In his 2018-20 capital plan, Bellone proposed $11 million for public safety projects including an accredited police fingerprint laboratory; replacement of the police information technology system; and a new canine headquarters with a training facility and kennels.
The multiyear plan also has $8.2 million for park work including $2.25 million to renovate the Long Island Maritime Museum in Sayville.
The three-year plan also includes expansion of the two lactation stations for nursing mothers in county buildings, beyond the two installed in Riverhead and Hauppauge this year and a new system for payment of delinquent taxes over the internet.
Bellone was required to file his new capital spending plan with the clerk of the county legislature by 5 p.m. Monday. By late in the day, Bellone had only provided a transmittal letter and an 11-page summary.
The county legislature has scheduled a public hearing on the capital plans for April 25. Lawmakers will consider amendments on June 6 and must adopt a final package by June 30.