Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and new Suffolk County Executive...

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and new Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone each described daunting challenges in dealing with deficits estimated at $310 million in Nassau and $100 million in Suffolk. (Jan. 13, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Is Suffolk the new Nassau?

Whatever the differences in how they got here, the governments of Long Island's two counties suddenly find themselves in the same excruciating predicament: No cash!

From Brokehaven to No-mo-riches, from Poor Jeff Station to Dire Island, Suffolk exec Steve Bellone has declared an official fiscal emergency and is preparing people for painful cuts; pretty much whatever's required to avoid a financial takeover by New York State.

No one wants that.

As Nassau officials learned the hard way, it's no fun at all having some stickler from Albany reviewing every last nickel that comes in or out.

But the spreadsheets don't lie. Suffolk is facing a three-year deficit of $530 million after sales- and property-tax revenue failed to keep pace with rising expenditures. Bellone doesn't have many choices. And none of them is cheery at all.

Cut stuff people love -- or keep on spending blindly 'til Uncle Oversight swoops in. For now at least, he's talking the "painful steps" approach.

Recent Nassau history teaches there is often quite a gap between tough fiscal talk and tough fiscal action. Saying you'll be ruthless isn't the same as being so.

Another lesson from the west has gotten even harder to ignore: Eventually, the books have to be balanced. And that won't get any easier over time.

 

COUNTY LINE

1. Let's tax Steve Bellone's tough choices

2. Can't we just soak the Hamptons some more?

3. You mean we have to pay for all this stuff?

4. Forget bipartisanship. Bitterness is far more exciting!

5. Missing Steve Levy yet?


ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Winter 2012: Forgotten but not gone? . . . If the Obama administration's creating 15 Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation, shouldn't one of them be on LI? We've made some pretty good stuff around here, you know . . . What kind of boom will Sonic bring to East Meadow -- economic or traffic? . . . How chocolate-obsessed are Long Islanders? Notice the three-hour line at last weekend's Chocolate World Expo at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City? . . . See the latest earnings from LI tech and pharma firms? That's two booming sectors right there . . . After four days of bus substitutions, will riders on the LIRR's creaky Montauk branch suddenly appreciate their missing trains? . . .What did East Hampton Supervisor Bill Wilkinson expect from his Citizens Advisory Committees? Total silence? He says they're -- gasp! -- "advocating" now.


THE NEWS IN SONG: B.B. King, "How Blue Can You Get?" tinyurl.com/howblu: "Thanks for the snack."


LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK: TECH HALL-OF-FAMERS

It isn't quite the Oscars. Then again, Hollywood's unlikely to save the LI economy, and this year's inductees at the Long Island Technology Hall of fame just might. Honored in a swank ceremony at the Garden City Hotel on Wednesday night, Samuel Aronson of Brookhaven Lab, Kevin Tracey of the Feinstein Institute and Paul Richman of Standard Microsystems (and Entrepreneur Award winner Robert Brill of Newlight Associates) are doing just the kind of work that really turn these two counties into Tech Island, USA - or at least Silicon Valley East. We may never compete with Shanghai's wages or Bangalore's repetitive drive. But we have the educated population, the creative spark, the proximate capital and the entrepreneur drive to make technology the engine of LI's 21st century economy. Here's hoping these four keep pushing us there.

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