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Letter: Borrowing from Suffolk's fund

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone uses a map

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone uses a map of Suffolk County to point out his administration's proposed efforts to clean the water infrastructure along the South Shore. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Regarding "Fall vote on water funds is right move in Suffolk" [Editorial, June 10], I wish to make it clear that money used in my administration for tax relief never came from a fund slated for open space or cleaning the environment.

Money in the Sewer Stabilization Fund could be used only for stabilizing sewer rates and not for clean water purposes. It was discovered that the sewer fund had enough money to stabilize rates for 20 years and still have more than $100 million remaining. Rather than have this surplus sit idle, my bill -- written with environmental groups -- permitted the use of the excess funds to keep our water clean through sewer and septic enhancements, while also providing property tax relief for 10 years.

The new agreement by County Executive Steve Bellone allows him to borrow money for the budget for the next three years, only to have a future county executive and legislature repay it, likely necessitating a property tax hike.

The fact that there was such a huge surplus shows the taxpayers had been overtaxed for many years. Taxpayers should get that money back rather than having to refill this kitty by potentially having their property taxes hiked further.

Steve Levy, Bayport

Editor's note: The writer was the Suffolk County executive from 2004 to 2011.


Defending Snowden after his leaks


I am stunned to see that so many people still consider Edward Snowden a traitor ["Good things come from curbs on NSA," Letters, June 2]. Our public officials get caught in lie after lie, yet there are still people who remain confident in them.

I would like to give a brief history lesson to those who have either forgotten the past or wish to ignore it. In 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act in response to a terrorist attack. It gave Chancellor Adolf Hitler the power to enact laws without the involvement of the legislative body.

We know what came next.

Robert Dirmeir Jr., Baldwin


Counties should repair sidewalks


I am appalled to find out that Nassau and Suffolk county homeowners are responsible for repairing their sidewalks. Our property taxes are through the roof, and the counties can't pay to repair broken sidewalks? Two words: simply ludicrous.

Chris Viola-Weiss, Oceanside


Outraged by care for returning vets


It's amazing that we can send our troops to foreign lands to fight for our country, and when they need medical attention at home we can't figure out how to handle it ["LI lawmakers seek VA explanation," News, June 13].

The veterans suffer because Veterans Affairs hospitals are few, in inconvenient locations and unprepared to handle the influx of patients. Why does it have to be like this?

Rocco Famiglietti, Manorville


Asharoken won't create public access


Your story "Going public?" misinformed readers [News, June 5].

To qualify for substantial post-Sandy tax dollars from state and federal funds to replenish the beaches of Asharoken, the village would have to accept public access. But the public access touted by officials is illusory. Yes, several public paths may be built, but widespread "no parking" regulations on the streets of the village will prevent anyone from using the paths.

Real access would include small parking lots near each pathway, and that's not going to happen.

Herb Mones, Stony Brook


Toxins in utility poles present danger


The article about my organization's class action lawsuit against the Long Island Power Authority and PSEG did not convey the seriousness of the issues, especially in relation to the highly toxic pollutant pentachlorophenol, which is currently banned or severely restricted in 26 countries ["E. Hampton power line suit asks $50M," News, May 30].

All 267 utility poles erected in East Hampton, as well as poles on the North Shore, are laden with pentachlorophenol, a wood preservative. In 1987, the United States banned pentachlorophenol, except on utility poles and railroad ties, because of its toxicity.

The poles and railroad ties were considered industrial use only. However, they have ended up being placed in front of homes in residential neighborhoods all over East Hampton and the North Shore. The soil by these poles has been tested in East Hampton, by expert hydrogeologists, and traces of pentachlorophenol were found to be more than 300 times the state Department of Environmental Conservation's acceptable levels. At the rate these toxins are moving through our soil, they could reach our aquifers and contaminate our groundwater and our produce farms in a relatively short time.

Rebecca Singer, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the co-chair of Long Island Businesses for Responsible Energy, a nonprofit business group.