- Legislator Jay Schneiderman
said this week that the news of the County's looming budget deficit was not news to him. Schneiderman reminded that one year ago he issued a stern warning about the county budget. In the press release issued February 28 of last year Legislator Schneiderman called the budget "a house of cards
." He asserted that prior County Executive, Steve Levy
, was masking a growing budget deficit with increasing amounts of "one shot" revenue sources, a practice Schneiderman deemed unsustainable.
In response to the report issued this week by a Blue Ribbon Panel commissioned by County Executive Steve Bellone
, Schneiderman said that he was not surprised by their projection of a $500 million deficit. "However," said Schneiderman, "It is important for the public to understand that this is not a current County's deficit, but a projection as to what it could be at the end of next year if no action is taken to address it." The actual existing deficit according to Legislator Schneiderman is approximately $35 million and was created when last year's budget had insufficient revenues to meet expenses. Schneiderman stated that the shortfall in last year's budget was due to a weak regional economy that produced less sales tax than anticipated and the unexpected costs of Hurricane Irene, which have not yet been reimbursed with Federal Emergency funds.
Schneiderman said the current operating budget makes severe cuts in County spending including 692 mid-year layoffs. Dozens of people lost their county jobs earlier this year. Still Schneiderman said more cuts this year and next year are anticipated. "The county lacks the necessary revenue to continue to operate at the level the public has become accustom to. I anticipate severe reductions in service levels over the next two years." County services include health clinics, public transportation, inlet dredging, bridge and road maintenance, senior nutrition services, emergency preparedness, and disease control to name only a few.
Legislator Schneiderman warned the road ahead would be rocky but said he was going to work closely in cooperation with County Executive Steve Bellone and his colleagues in the Legislature to make sure the county budget is balanced and the deficit projected by the Blue Ribbon Panel never materializes.
Representing the South Fork, Jay Schneiderman is the Suffolk County Legislator for the Second Legislative District. He is also Chairman of the County Legislature's Public Works and Transportation Committee and Vice Chair of Budget & Finance Committee.