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Candidates put layoffs on table

Layoffs may be inevitable for Brookhaven Town employees, according to the two candidates for town supervisor.

At a Meet the Candidates event in Shoreham on Wednesday, both candidates said the town's plummeting revenues and increased personnel costs have made it difficult to avoid layoffs in the coming year.

"Unless we have the money, it's very difficult to restore services," said county Legis. Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), the Republican candidate for Brookhaven's top spot.

"We may have to live with a period where really good services don't exist," he added.

Democratic candidate Brian Beedenbender, of Centereach, chief of staff to former supervisor Mark Lesko, said layoffs were something he didn't take "lightly."

The proposed 2013 budget crafted by Lesko recommends about 150 layoffs to trim services and reduce personnel costs. "It's the fault of the economy," Beedenbender said.

When asked their opinion of a possible casino in Brookhaven operated by the Shinnecock tribe, Romaine said he didn't know how much influence the town supervisor would have over the decision.

"If they find a site in Brookhaven, I would say, 'If you want to look here, make it near an arterial highway,' " Romaine said.

Beedenbender said he'd support a casino. "I'd be all for it," he said. "This money is leaving Suffolk County."

They were among several candidates at the event -- one of a number held throughout Suffolk. This one was attended by about 100 people at the Leisure Glen retirement community in Shoreham, and included Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and his Republican opponent, Randy Altschuler of St. James. Both agreed on extending the Bush payroll tax deductions and the need to stimulate job growth locally.

Altschuler was questioned about his support for a movement to never raise taxes. "I don't think anybody on Long Island wants higher taxes. We need tax relief," he said.

Bishop said Altschuler's absolutist stance was "a real impediment to solving problems."

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) spoke about the need to enforce sanctions on unlicensed drivers, while his Democratic opponent, Bridget Fleming, a Southampton councilwoman, discussed reducing electric rates and property taxes in the district.

State Assemb. Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham) spoke about the need for enforcing penalties on unlicensed drivers and setting minimum school district standards for teachers. His Democratic opponent, Nicholas Deegan, of Mattituck, did not attend the event.

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