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OpinionEditorial

Don't prolong merger of two Suffolk offices

At a meeting of the Regional Plan Association

At a meeting of the Regional Plan Association in Manhattan on Friday, April 24, 2015, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone joins the debate on whether governments should be encouraging the retreat from areas at risk for flooding and sea level rise. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

There is only one way to move forward on Suffolk County's merger of its treasurer and comptroller offices.

Make . . . it . . . happen. As soon as possible. Anything else is just politics, which already has infected this long-running soap opera.

To recap: Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone finally succeeded last fall in abolishing the treasurer's position when voters approved a referendum to merge it with the comptroller's office at the end of 2017. That's when the term of then-Treasurer Angie Carpenter was due to end. Then Carpenter left March 1 to become Islip Town supervisor.

That created an opportunity to accelerate the merger, which Republican Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., a former merger foe, now supports and says would save $750,000. A merger at the end of 2015 would require another referendum in November, as proposed by Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst).

Now the Democrats are saying slow down; they want to see a transition plan. The GOP is talking about having former comptroller Joseph Sawicki run in November for the rest of Carpenter's term -- the $200,000 he has in campaign funds would help a GOP ticket that has to take on Bellone this fall. And leaders from both parties are bemoaning the difficulty of finding someone to run for a position that would no longer exist if the referendum succeeds -- as if that's different from finding in-name-only candidates every election cycle to run imaginary campaigns for seats they know they can't win.

Kennedy says he could do a merger now. Good. He should write a plan, the Suffolk Legislature should put the referendum on November's ballot, each party should find someone to run, and the voters can settle this once and for all -- again.

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