Bill to cut assistant attorney job fails
A Republican resolution to ax $97,000-a-year assistant county attorney Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld was killed in the Suffolk legislative committee Tuesday after a debate in which the name of the former Brookhaven Democratic town board member was never raised.
The measure, sponsored by legislative minority leader John Kennedy (R-Nesconset), was rejected in a 3-2 party line vote in the budget committee. Debate centered on whether funding for Democrat Fiore-Rosenfeld’s job should go toward hiring more investigators for the human rights commission.
Kennedy said the commission has needed additional investigators for more than a year and neither the county attorney nor county executive have moved to bolster the staff that receives more than 2,300 calls for assistance on race, age and sexual discrimination issues each year.
County Attorney Dennis Brown, whose office oversees the commission, said he is looking to find more resources for the commission, adding that the staff of 53 lawyers has already been cut by 13.
Fiore-Rosenfeld was hired last month after stepping down from the town board at year’s end after a decade in office. He decided not to seek re-election last year after District Attorney Thomas Spota's office seized three computers from his town office in a elections probe. Just before his hiring, Fiore-Rosenfeld’s former town aide Jocelyn Rush sued him, claiming he harassed her and pressed her to do political work in her off hours. — RICK BRAND
Dunes work to also help city credit rating
The federal government’s commitment to spend $178 million to strengthen the Long Beach shoreline will also help repair the city’s credit rating, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month unveiled a $178 million plan to protect Long Beach from future storms with nearly 5 million cubic yards of sand and at least 22 new or rehabilitated groins — protective structures that jut out from the shoreline.
The funding is a “credit positive” for Long Beach that “will help the city continue its trend of improving financial performance,” Moody’s said in a statement released Feb. 20.
In December 2011, Moody’s downgraded the city's credit rating from A1, which its website defines as “upper-medium grade,” to Baa3, which means “moderate credit risk.” In December, the service reaffirmed Long Beach’s bond rating and issued a statement describing the city’s finances as “stable.”
The fact that local taxpayers will not have to carry the tax burden for the dunes project is another positive step for Long Beach, Moody’s said in the statement.
“Ongoing cost-cutting coupled with revenue raising measures have begun to stabilize the city’s credit profile,” according to the statement. — PATRICK WHITTLE
Hearing set on Elks Plaza superfund site
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public meeting next week on taking no further action at the Elks Plaza state Superfund site in Freeport.
The meeting will be held March 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Freeport Memorial Library, 144 W. Merrick Rd. The DEC is also seeking public comments through March 23.
The property at 189 W. Merrick Rd. includes a laundry in a one-story strip mall. A dry cleaners operated at the site from 1985 to 1996. The DEC has listed the site in the State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites.
The primary contaminants are tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), and cis-1,2-dichloroethene (DCE) and attributed to leaking dry cleaning fluid, according to the DEC.
Soil samples showed very low levels of the contaminants, which were also found in the groundwater, slightly exceeding standards.
Project documents are available for review at the Freeport Memorial Library and at the DEC’s regional office in Stony Brook.
For project-related questions, call Melissa Sweet of the DEC at 518-402-9614 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For site-related health questions, call Renata Ockerby at the state Department of Health at 518-402-7860 or email BEEI@health.state.ny.us. — AISHA AL-MUSLIM
$20G approved for emergency road work
Amityville trustees on Monday night approved spending as much as $20,000 for emergency road repairs that are to start immediately.
“I think we have a crisis here, by no fault of our public works department,” said Trustee Nick LaLota. He estimated there are now 200 potholes on village roads caused by the harsh winter.
Workers from Rosemar Construction Corp., an East Moriches-based paving company already in contract with Babylon Town for its road reconstruction program, will augment the efforts of crew from the village public works department.
The village crew has only one “hot box” asphalt-patching truck, and work has been hampered because some asphalt repairs can’t be done in cold or wet weather, LaLota said.
The 5-0 approval came despite reluctance from Trustee Kevin Smith, who argued the situation wasn’t bad enough to merit emergency spending. “We’re spending money we don’t need to spend,” he said.
The cost of repairs will be balanced by savings achieved when Mayor James Wandell replaced his full-time assistant with a part-time worker, LaLota said.
LaLota said Amityville would use a Babylon town contract with the company that set a rate of $12 per square foot for the pothole repair work.
Trustee Dennis Siry, the village board’s liaison to the public works department, noted in his report to the board that 4.5 tons of temporary road patch has already washed away.
Amityville’s potholes have claimed at least one prominent victim: Wandell, who said he’d recently lost a tire to one. — NICHOLAS SPANGLER
Town launches food drive until April 18
Brookhaven Town has launched its first emergency food drive to bolster churches and food pantries running low on perishable and nonperishable items, officials said.
“This has been a very difficult winter. There’s been a lot of snow and bad weather, and contributions have dropped off,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Wednesday. “There are a lot of needy people who depend on the food pantries to feed their families.”
Nonperishable foods such as pasta and canned goods can be left at Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contributions also can be donated at the Henrietta Acampora Recreation Center in Blue Point; the Mastic Recreation Center; New Village Recreation Center in Centereach and the Robert E. Reid Recreation Center in Shoreham.
Gary Stevens, pastor of New Beginnings Christian Center in Coram, said as many as 70 families visit his church each week for food.
“We could always use food and meats to put a family meal together,” he said. “More people come toward the end of the month when their money starts to run short.”
The food drive began Tuesday and will continue until April 18, after which the items will be disbursed.
Food pantries receive an influx of food during the holiday season, but donations dwindle after January, and residents have asked the town to help, Romaine said.
Brookhaven has more than 30 food pantries, town officials said. For more information, call 631-451-8011. — DEON J. HAMPTON
OYSTER BAY TOWN
Town to again offer retirement incentives
Oyster Bay is moving to continue its employee retirement incentive program for a third year to strengthen its fiscal position.
The town board Tuesday held a public hearing on the continuation but did not make a decision on the issue. No residents spoke at the hearing.
Oyster Bay started the program when it faced a cash crunch and declining bond ratings. But even after selling its Syosset public works complex last year to developers for $32.5 million, bond rating agencies are still voicing concerns about the town’s finances.
In its first two years, 108 employees have taken advantage of the program. Employees who participated received $1,000 for every year of service plus medical benefits for life.
Even with the added retirement costs, the town saved more than $14 million by not filling jobs or filling them with employees at lower salaries, officials said.
Oyster Bay spokeswoman Marta Kane said “there is no target for the number of people” the town is hoping will leave in the third year.
The town had 1,200 full-time employees before the program started and now has 1,167. — BILL BLEYER