ALBANY -- A proposal to install as many as 125 traffic cameras in Long Island school zones has been blocked from the state budget, potentially damaging a Nassau County plan to lift a wage freeze.
As state lawmakers move to start voting on the budget Monday, other key Long Island issues were coming into focus.
Legislators said Saturday they have struck a tentative deal to keep open the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills for now. Instead of closing as proposed by the Cuomo administration, the center would remain open for a three-month monitoring period while the state determines whether expanded "community centers" reduces admissions there.
Failure to adopt school-zone speed cameras could put a big hole in Nassau's budget. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which oversees county finances, has said the estimated $8 million or more in annual revenue from speed-zone cameras could be used to help lift a union-employee wage freeze, which has run for three years.
Uncertainty about the revenue was one factor in the board's decision to postpone a vote on the deal until the second week of April, NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said Saturday.
"We will have to wait to see how this ends up and act accordingly," Kaiman said.
Legislators are considering another route by introducing a separate bill to authorize school-zone speed cameras in New York City and Long Island. It wasn't clear whether that bill would be acted on this week, when legislators are taking up the state budget.
Speed cameras record speeding violations without a police officer being present at the scene. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has backed school-zone cameras.
Several sources said that the issue became entangled with the looming renewal of authorization for red-light cameras in Nassau and that Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) raised the issue of whether the villages of Hempstead and Freeport could receive a share of the revenue.
Hooper didn't return multiple messages Saturday. Assembly officials said there wasn't an agreement on the number of cameras authorized for New York City and Long Island.
A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano declined to comment.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had projected that 20 school-zone cameras would generate $2 million in annual revenue -- although the county didn't include that projected revenue in its budget.
Suffolk Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said Saturday he is hopeful state lawmakers will approve the speed cameras as a stand-alone bill.With Robert Brodsky