Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy appeared on the public access show Excelsior Forum with host Larry Mikorenda. Mr. Kennedy discussed the recent hack on the county government’s computer system, in which its impact will be felt throughout next year. To protect the county from further hacks, he is looking to make the system cloud-based and will continue to monitor the system continuously.
He also discussed the importance of the auditing process to ensure taxpayer dollars are not being wasted. In addition, he wants to convert the auditing system to cloud-based as well.
During his second term as comptroller, Mr. Kennedy refinanced the bond portfolio because, at the time, interest rates were very low. As a result, he was able to save county taxpayers $51 million in interest and principal. In addition, he placed a $100 million funding cap for county programs.
Mr. Kennedy is working with County Clerk Vincent Puleo to form a committee to get feedback from those in the real estate, title and banking industries and land use attorneys and hear from these industries how his office can better facilitate their needs.
During the COVID pandemic, Suffolk County was flush with cash, due to millions of dollars in financial aid from the federal government. Mr. Kennedy noted that some of that money is still sitting in the coffers unspent; instead, the money should be given back to the residents, who are struggling to pay school taxes, the biggest part of their tax bills.
On the topic of clean energy, Mr. Kennedy agreed with the host that Suffolk should look at alternative sources of energy, but should not ban gas stoves. He pointed out that, during blackouts and power outages, gas-powered homes were still able to keep the heat on. He said there is not enough electricity to power the county’s residences and businesses.
Because Suffolk is one of the largest counties in the nation, Mr. Kennedy said, the state believes it must place unnecessary restrictions and fees on the residents. He said the state will try to impose its will over Suffolk’s towns and villages and turn Suffolk into New York City, but that will never happen.