Explains How Bellone’s Tax and Fee Increases, Bond Downgrades and Workforce Reductions Have Created County’s Current Fiscal Crisis
Ronkonkoma, NY — On September 9, John M. Kennedy, Candidate, Suffolk County Executive, was joined by local elected officials and residents at a press conference at the former Oceancrest Diner in Huntington Station, announcing the kickoff of his “Fiscal Reality Tour” as part of his campaign to #SaveSuffolk.
Mr. Kennedy explained that, contrary to claims made by the County Executive, taxpayers have been burdened by enormous tax and fee increases under Steve Bellone, while, at the same time, the County has experienced seven bond downgrades and a fiscal crisis whereby it barely meets its obligation week by week.
Mr. Bellone’s out-of-control spending has resulted in bloated payrolls and budgets. Despite the fact that the County’s workforce has been reduced by nearly 1,000 workers, payroll has increased by over $100 million. At the same time, the budget has risen from $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion — an increase of almost 15%.
Poor fiscal mismanagement has driven enormous tax and fee increases. The property tax levy has increased from $532,765,964 in 2012 to $652,108,097 in 2019. That is an increase of $119,342,129, meaning that homeowners have seen a property tax increase of 22.4% over that time.
In addition, Suffolk taxpayers have been hit with across-the-board fee increases. These include the tax map verification fee, mortgage recording fee, residential/commercial burglar alarm fee, red-light camera fee, shopping bag fee, pet grooming fee and Department of Motor Vehicles registration fee. In addition, Mr. Bellone has hiked county park use fees every year since 2015 for camping, fishing, hunting, parking, group events and recreational permits. This disproportionately affects working-class Suffolk residents, including first-time homebuyers and those who rely on parks for recreational opportunities. In total, the Bellone administration has raised taxes and fees to the tune of $200 million.
Also exacerbating Suffolk’s fiscal crisis is the reduction in population. The county’s overall population has shrunk by 16,396 in the past seven years, leaving fewer taxpayers to bear a higher tax burden. Favorable Industrial Development Agency (IDA) benefits have further reduced the county’s tax base.
“Mr. Bellone has implemented a series of fees and tax hikes that have inflated residents’ property tax bills,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Out-of-control spending has created a fiscal crisis in Suffolk County. After huge tax increases and enormous reductions in the county’s workforce, we can barely pay our bills. This November, it’s time to say ‘no more’ to fiscal mismanagement and #BigTaxBellone.”
“It is no secret that Suffolk County’s financial condition has deteriorated over the past eight years, with ballooning debt and poor fiscal management leading to more fees and higher costs of living for Suffolk residents,” said Andrew Raia, New York State Assemblyman. “We need someone like John Kennedy to help reverse this debilitating trend and save our county from financial ruin.”
“John Kennedy understands the importance of investing in our infrastructure to bring the Route 110 corridor back to its status as the driving force behind a booming Long Island economy,” said Chad Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town of Huntington. “He knows it’s a necessary step in encouraging private investment and bringing good jobs back to Long Island to help our residents stay here to raise their families and retire in the communities where they’ve spent their entire lives.”
While repeating his call for Governor Cuomo to strongly urge the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to settle the lawsuit with the Town of Huntington over the utility’s tax assessment, Mr. Kennedy also questioned why Mr. Bellone has been completely silent on the matter. If LIPA wins the lawsuit, Suffolk taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It is time for government to lead in this time of fiscal crisis,” said Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town of Huntington. “We need to fight for responsible budgets that do not mortgage our children’s and grandchildren’s financial futures, that allow Long Islanders to stay on Long Island. At a time when not only county taxes, municipal taxes and school taxes are going up, we have the Long Island Power Authority going back on their word to its host towns not to grieve their property taxes in not only Huntington, but other municipalities on Long Island. If LIPA is successful, it will be another blow to families, retirees, and young adults who are all struggling to stay here. It’s time to think outside the box to balance budgets, maintain services, and attract good businesses to Long Island that will fuel our economy and allow young professionals to return to Long Island to be with their families.”
For more information, visit www.johnkennedyforsuffolk.com or follow #SaveSuffolk.
Flanked by charts, John Kennedy (foreground) explains how Suffolk County continues to endure a fiscal crisis under Steve Bellone. He is joined by (left to right) Chad Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town of Huntington; Hector Gavilla, Garrett Chelius, Candidates, Suffolk GOP Legislature; Stacy Colamussi, Candidate, Town of Huntington Receiver of Taxes; and Andrew Raia, New York State Assemblyman.