Tag Archive | "Jay Schneiderman"

Measure Would Restore Drinking Water Money

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Legislation sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman to make sure  federal and state reimbursements are properly returned to the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program was approved unanimously at the December 2 meeting of the County Legislature.

A portion of the drinking water fund, also known as the 477 fund, has historically been used to pay the salaries of employees doing water quality related work. Some of these salaries are in part eligible for such reimbursements, but the money received was being placed in the county’s general fund.

The measure requires any federal and state reimbursements to the county to be returned to the drinking water fund. Mr. Schneiderman estimates the 477 fund could see an increase of as much as $300,000 per year.

“This is a significant amount of money,” said Legislator Schneiderman in a release. “This additional money could be used to fund additional water quality projects to improve the integrity of our water supply for years to come.”

The resolution will now go to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who is expected to sign it into law.

Local Leaders Accept Sag Harbor Express’s Ice Bucket Challenge

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County Legislator Jay Schneiderman and Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves accepted an ice bucket challenge issued by the Sag Harbor Express, which was dutifully administered by School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi and Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols on Friday, August 22. Photos courtesy Sag Harbor School District.

County Legislator Jay Schneiderman and Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves accepted an ice bucket challenge issued by the Sag Harbor Express, which was dutifully administered by School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi and Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols on Friday, August 22. Photos courtesy Sag Harbor School District.

By Tessa Raebeck

After being issued an ALS ice bucket challenge by the Times Review, Sag Harbor Express co-publishers Kathryn and Gavin Menu and consultant and publisher emeritus Bryan Boyhan boldly accepted the challenge on Thursday, August 21. View the video here.


Mr. Thiele, who was allegedly out of town Friday, accepted the challenge in Marine Park on a beautiful morning Wednesday, August 27. Photo by Mara Certic.

While trying to hide their fear awaiting the buckets–aptly distributed by our intern, Sam Mason-Jones–the publishers challenged some local heavy-hitters: Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

At the top of Pierson Hill on Friday, August 22, Mr. Schneiderman and Ms. Graves were doused with buckets of ice water–much to the delight of their respective staffs. In the district less than a month, new School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi selflessly accepted the opportunity to dump ice on Mr. Schneiderman, while Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols soaked Ms. Graves with a smile on his face. A full video recording of that endeavor is available here.




Historic Landmark Given Another Chance

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The Cedar Island Lighthouse will be restored and turned into a bed & breakfast. Photo by Genevieve Kotz


By Genevieve Kotz

Three miles off the coast of Sag Harbor stands the boarded up Cedar Island Lighthouse, which, after 40 years of being inaccessible to the public, is now on the way to being fully restored and turned into a bed and breakfast.

The development comes after the Suffolk County Legislature on June 17 agreed to extend a licensing agreement between the Suffolk County Parks Department and the Long Island chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society through 2029.

The legislation, sponsored by County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, will allow the non-profit organization and its president, Michael Leahy, to raise the money needed to properly restore the landmark.

On June 25, Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Leahy offered details about the plans to a small group of reporters who accompanied them on a boat ride out to Cedar Point to view the building from the water.

Mr. Leahy said the plan to turn the lighthouse into a small bed and breakfast, with only two rooms, will bring in revenue for its upkeep. He believes keeping the building occupied will also deter vandalism. He has raised about $50,000 for the restoration, but now that Lighthouse, Inc. has permission from the county to raise more money, he hopes to be able to raise the $2 million needed to complete the job.

“This is the first sign of something happening,” said Mr. Schneiderman, who chairs the legislature’s Parks & Recreation Committee. “It wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for Michael.”

Pretty much the entire building has to be rebuilt after a 1974 fire gutted the interior. The lighthouse also needs a new roof and a dock that will allow easier access.

Mr. Leahy said the first floor will have a kitchen, a living room, and living quarters for the light keeper. The second floor will have two guest bedrooms. He said he also hopes to set up tours to allow the public to visit the historic landmark.

The Cedar Island Lighthouse was built in 1868 on what was once a 3-acre island off of Cedar Point. However, due to years of erosion, the island dwindled down to only an acre of land. In 1934, the lighthouse was decommissioned and the 1938 hurricane deposited sand, attaching the island to the mainland by way of a thin peninsula.

After the fire in 1974, East Hampton Town restored the roof, but to this day, the lighthouse remains boarded up and empty.


Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Leahy pose next to the Lighthouses’s lantern.

There are two main phases to the restoration project. Work is currently underway on the restoration of the lighthouse lantern, which was removed from the lighthouse in November 2013 with help from Chesterfield Associates and Bob Coco Construction and is currently being stored at the Breakwater Yacht Club in Sag Harbor.

With help by Jim Poitras, the lantern is being prepared for sandblasting to clean and remove rust before it will be repainted. After reinstalling the lantern, workers will put in new windows and doors.

The restoration of the lantern has been estimated to cost about $35,000 but may be cheaper, due to volunteer efforts, according to Mr. Leahy.

Mr. Leahy first got involved with Lighthouse Inc. five years ago. Having come out to the East End since 1951, he wanted to help preserve an important part of Sag Harbor’s maritime history.

“In the end, what’s left of us?” he said. “This is something that will remain.”

Mr. Leahy looked to other lighthouses for inspiration, particularly the Saugerties Lighthouse about 40 miles south of Albany on the Hudson River. It is open four days a week for $225 a night and is only accessibly by personal boat or a half-mile walk. It is completely booked for the rest of 2014.

The Cedar Island Lighthouse, which is easier to get to by water than land, is about a 15-minute boat ride from Sag Harbor, or a one-and-a-quarter mile walk from Cedar Point Park. Because of the nesting piping clovers, no one is allowed to drive to the lighthouse from mid-March to mid-August.

“It feels like 300 miles because it is so remote,” Mr. Leahy said.

For those who would want to traverse back and forth, the organization is hoping to work out a deal with a ferry or taxi boat to provide transportation.

The bed and breakfast, though, might be the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy summer season.

“If you come out for two days, you’d have a feeling of what it was like 100 years ago,” Mr. Leahy said. “You’d have a sense of history.”

Mr. Schneiderman, who grew up in Montauk and who has always been interested in historic preservation, recently met Mr. Leahy and was inspired by his passion for the project.

“I’m really thrilled that there’s someone like Michael out there that has the enthusiasm to take on a task of this magnitude,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I think this will be a popular tourist attraction out of Sag Harbor.”

Together, they worked out a contractual arrangement that gave Mr. Leahy the comfort level to raise the money needed.

There were certain roadblocks that they had to overcome, including the fact that the county normally puts language in the contract that allows it to cancel any agreement. To prevent this, there is a clause that says Lighthouse Inc. will be reimbursed if the county decides to drop the project.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Mr. Leahy said. “Jay and the county doing what they are doing has been very helpful and we appreciate it.”

For more information – or to make a donation or offer volunteer services – for the Cedar Island Lighthouse, visit www.cedarislandlighthouse.org.


No To Puppy Mills

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Suffolk County Legislature approved a measure on Tuesday that will require more disclosure from pet stores and prohibit the sale of animals from proven puppy mills.

The law was co-sponsored by Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk and written with the aid of animal advocacy groups and local store owners.  The law prohibits pet shops from buying animals from questionable breeders with violations on their most recent United States Department of Agriculture reports.

New Affordable Health Care Clinic Opens in Southampton

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and HRHCare President and CEO Anne Kauffman Nolon officially opened the Kraus Family Health Center of the Hamptons at Southampton Hospital on Wednesday. Photo by Mara Certic.


By Mara Certic

“The face of healthcare is changing and the County of Suffolk is at the forefront of it,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. at the grand opening of the Kraus Family Health Center of the Hamptons on Wednesday, May 21.

Hudson River HealthCare, a not-for-profit health care system, had an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new center at Southampton Hospital. Construction of the almost 10,000 square foot clinic began in October of 2013.

HRHCare’s mission is “to increase access to comprehensive primary and preventive health care and to improve the health status of our community, especially for the underserved and vulnerable.”

Its first center opened in Peekskill in July 1975; it now has 22 centers in New York, which provide care for more than 90,000 patients. English and Spanish are spoken at every site, and six other languages are spoken at specific HRHCare clinics.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said that the new clinic offers “significantly more” than what the urgent care clinics in both East Hampton and Southampton previously provided.

The new center will offer affordable health care, including family medicine, behavioral health services, dental care and women’s health services.

The clinic unofficially opened its doors on March 17 to provide family medicine services. Since then nearly 800 patients have made 1,200 visits to this site, according to HRHCare President and CEO Anne Kauffman Nolon. In the first month the clinic was open, 60 percent of its patients were uninsured and 182 of them were homeless. “It’s good to know that we’re really meeting a need here,” Ms. Nolon said.

Robert Chaloner, President and CEO of Southampton Hospital, announced that the Kraus Family Health Center already has its first six resident doctors, who will start in July. “As your landlord, we promise to be kind,” he said to Ms. Nolon on Wednesday.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the day’s keynote speaker, said that the new facility is a “major advancement” for Suffolk County and thanked Hudson River Healthcare; he said that its hard work is the “main reason” that the clinic is open today.

Mr. Bellone also thanked local government officials for their dedication in seeing this project through: “If I had one word to describe Jay it would be relentless,” he said of Mr. Schneiderman. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for his tenacity.”

“And our great partners at the town level,” he continued. “Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, on this issue and so many others, you’re a great leader. And all of our partners in Southampton, thank you.”

The Kraus Family Health Center of the Hamptons is located at Southampton Hospital at 330 Meeting House Lane, Southampton. For more information visit hrhcare.org or call (631) 268-1008.


Water Quality, Economic Development Top Bellone’s East End Agenda

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Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, WLNG’s Dan Duprey and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone last Wednesday as Mr. Bellone stopped by the Sag Harbor radio station on a tour of the East End. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

During a whistle-stop tour of the East End last Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared that encouraging economic growth and improving water quality remain among his top priorities.

“I’ve always tried to recognize, even when I was a town supervisor in Babylon, there are a lot of regional things that impact all of us locally,” Mr. Bellone said at a panel discussion with local government officials at the County Center in Riverhead Wednesday morning. “What is happening on the East End in a multitude of ways impacts what’s happening on the West End and vice versa.”

Mr. Bellone and representatives from Southampton, Southold, Shelter Island, Riverhead and East Hampton discussed the need for economic growth west of the canal. “We need jobs on the East End that will allow our young people to live here,” the County Executive said. “I think transportation is key.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst agreed, saying that public transportation plans “mostly have been sitting on the shelves for dollar and cent reasons and must be dusted off and attended to now.”

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who accompanied Mr. Bellone on his tour, mentioned some improvements that have already been made to public transportation in eastern Suffolk County.

“Now, year-round, for the first time … we have seven-day-a-week service,” Mr. Schneiderman said, in reference to Suffolk County Transit buses now operating on Sundays.

Mr. Bellone and Mr. Schneiderman announced last July that Suffolk County received $4 million in federal funding to expand its Sunday bus service which started in in January 2014. The service is now year-round rather than seasonal in nature.

Mr. Bellone emphasized the need for a good county bus system for workers, for those he referred to as “non-choice riders,” but also suggested that transportation market solutions could be broader-based. He stressed that a good bus system could have wide appeal, and would serve to take some cars off the road during the busy summer season.

“I would love to work with you on developing all those transportation plans,” Mr. Bellone told his colleagues on the panel. The county will be bringing on new transportation experts, he said, whose aim will be to continue to increase and improve train and bus systems.

Mr. Schneiderman discussed the difficulties of living under the New York State-mandated 2-percent property tax levy cap. He added, however, that in order to work around this, Suffolk County has an assembly and senate bill that would install speed cameras in every school district, one per district, within a quarter mile of schools. Mr. Bellone explained that the municipalities would earn ant revenue generated from tickets issued through speed cameras and handle all of the contracts involved. This bill – which also places cameras in Nassau County and increase the number in New York City –passed last week in both the New York State Assembly and the State Senate.

Using innovation and technology to develop a sewer system to improve water quality is one of Mr. Bellone’s main goals, he said. There are 360,000 homes in Suffolk County without a sewer system – using a cesspool systems instead – equal to the number of non-sewered homes in the entire State of New Jersey. Suffolk has received a $500,000 grant from IBM in order to determine the best sewering system for each watershed area and to create a program to assist with the expense of implementing those systems.

During a live interview with WLNG’s Dan Duprey in Sag Harbor Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Bellone discussed his program Operation Medicine Cabinet, which would encourage the safe disposal of prescription drugs in an environmentally friendly way to protect local waters.

This program placed secure receptacles in each of Suffolk County’s police precincts to allow residents to dispose of prescription drugs anonymously. The Sag Harbor Village Police Department has its own drop box on Division Street. Mr.Bellone last month announced the expansion of Operation Medicine Cabinet to senior centers throughout Suffolk County.

The County Executive continued his tour of the East End in Montauk, where he visited with local business-owners and fishermen. Plans to meet with farmers in Southampton later that afternoon were postponed due to weather.

Fishermen aired concerns about methoprene mosquito-spraying during a roundtable discussion with the county executive and legislator at the Clam and Chowder House at Salivar’s Dock in Montauk. The use of methoprene has been linked to killing and stunting the growth of lobsters.

Mr. Schneiderman introduced a bill in July 2013 that would restrict the use of methoprene in estuaries, using alternatives such as Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) that has not been shown to harm the development of lobsters or other crustaceans. Similar bills have been passed in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.

There is some debate as to what danger, if any, is caused by methoprene, but Mr. Schneiderman continues to seek support for his bill.

“They started using methoprene in 1996,” he said. “In 1995 there was about 4 million pounds of lobster in the Long Island Sound. Now there’s nothing. The sound is pretty much dead to lobsters now.”


Suffolk County: Schneiderman Earns Sixth and Final Term

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Incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman Celebrates his Victory at a Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton November 5.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Jay Schneiderman has earned a sixth and final term on the Suffolk County Legislature handily defeating his Republican challenger Chris Nuzzi during Tuesday night’s election.

Schneiderman — an Independence Party member running with the support of the Democratic and Working Families parties — earned 11,329 votes or 60.34 percent of ballots cast, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE). Nuzzi — a Southampton Town Councilman running with the support of both the Republican and Conservative parties — earned 7,444 ballots or 39.64 percent of the vote.

With absentee ballots, and the results of three election districts not yet reported, Nuzzi conceded the race to Schneiderman in a phone call just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.

“I want to congratulate Jay, a long serving elected official,” said Nuzzi Wednesday morning. “It is not an easy thing to do and despite our disagreements on the campaign trail I respect his win.”

“I want to reiterate my thanks to Southampton residents, in particular, for all the support they have shown me in my two terms on the Southampton Town Board,” added Nuzzi, who will step down from that board due to term limits in January. “I value that experience more than anyone knows.”

“To the residents of the second legislative district, of course, I was in this to win it — we all are,” said Nuzzi. “But it is bigger than just the election. You can make a point and force conversations about important issues regardless of the election outcome.”

As to whether or not he would seek another run for public service, Nuzzi said it was simply too early to speculate on his political future.

“It takes an awful lot of any person, and their families for that matter, to put themselves through the election process,” he said. “Right now I would be purely speculating and it would be premature. At the same time, I love public service, I love serving in office and I would certainly consider public service in the future.”

On Wednesday, Schneiderman said he was pleased with the outcome, and in particular was satisfied with the large margin of approval given he was running on his record of service.

“The race is over,” he said. “Chris called and conceded last night and we had a very nice conversation. I credited him on a well-run race. I think he was a formidable opponent.”

Schneiderman added he was pleased to have the opportunity to work with incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who appears to have secured a third term, as well as Larry Cantwell, the Democrat-elect to the town supervisor’s seat in East Hampton.

“I want to assist the towns in tackling regional issues in any way I can,” said Schneiderman who added he plans to hit the ground running on issues like tick borne illness abatement.

Schneiderman recently passed legislation requiring the county to develop a comprehensive plan to address tick abatement and tick borne illnesses through its division of vector control.

“Over the last few weeks, so many people have reached out to me that I believe it is a more prevalent issue than I initially believed it to be,” he said. “That will be a central issue I focus on, and in particular having the county step up to secure resources from state and federal officials to bring attention to this health epidemic we are facing on the East End.”

Revitalizing the Riverside area in Southampton, and looking at water quality issues are also at the top of Schneiderman’s agenda, he said.

“I don’t know exactly what the next two years will hold,” he said. “I know the next big fight will be who will be the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. I am interested. Whether that comes to pass, we will see, but I am a senior member of the majority, so it is possible despite the power center of the legislature being in western Suffolk.”

Schneiderman Praises County Budget as “Good for the East End”

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At the November 20 meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said lawmakers were surprised to learn that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had not vetoed a single budget amendment proposed by the legislature for the $2.8 billion 2013 budget.

In previous years, according to Schneiderman, former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy vetoed many changes proposed by the legislature to the budget submitted by the county executive.

“Not this year,” said Schneiderman. “There is a much greater level of cooperation between the two branches of government. We have come together to tackle the fiscal challenges that face the county as a team, and it’s paying off.”

Schneiderman said the county’s financial situation has improved greatly, in part because of what he called “difficult choices” the legislature has made including significant reductions in the county workforce. This year alone, Schneiderman said he and other lawmakers agreed to eliminate 700 positions from the county workforce.

Legislator Schneiderman served as a member of the Legislature’s Budget Working Group.

“The approved budget is good for the East End in many ways,” said Schneiderman who said this is the ninth county budget he has participated in without a general fund property tax increase.

“These are challenging times for everyone,” said Legislator Schneiderman. “It is our responsibility as elected officials to find ways to operate government without asking residents to contribute more.”

The county also increased dredging by $5 million for next year and increased the sales tax revenues distributed to East End police departments by $3.5 million while also decreasing the amount given to western Suffolk County by $17.2 million. Schneiderman said he has also secured an additional $113,500 in hotel tax revenues for East End museums and cultural centers, including Guild Hall, Bay Street Theater, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and the new Parrish Art Museum.

Schneiderman said money was also allocated for the renovation of the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill in Sag Harbor. A total of $218,500 was given in cultural funding to East End organizations.

The budget also established a $5 million emergency fund for Hurricane Sandy related repairs.


Schneiderman: Village Should Budget for Long Wharf

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Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said this week he planned to reach out to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride and suggest the mayor incorporate monies to care for Long Wharf into his 2012-2013 spending plan.

The suggestion comes mere weeks after the latest meeting between Suffolk County and Sag Harbor Village officials over the fate of Long Wharf. For over a year and a half village and county officials have bandied back-and-forth over the ownership of Long Wharf. A 10-year lease between the village and the county expired over a year ago. Since then, while the village has continued to maintain Long Wharf on a daily basis, long term repairs were stalled by the county, which technically owns the facility as a county road.

However, with a new Suffolk County Executive – Steve Bellone – and a county budget facing a potential $200,000 deficit, Schneiderman said he believes he now has the votes to move forward with the sale of Long Wharf to the Village of Sag Harbor. This would mean the village would assume responsibility for budgeting for long term repairs of the wharf.

According to Schneiderman, Suffolk County traditionally counted on setting aside $100,000 annually to pay for long term repairs to Long Wharf.

Now, it appears, that responsibility could lie with the Village of Sag Harbor, which has just begun its budget talks for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

On Monday, Schneiderman said he has taken the first step by re-filing a bill that transfers ownership of Windmill Beach and the sliver of land hosting the Windmill itself into village hands. That bill could be decided on as early as March 13, he said. After that, Schneiderman said he or Suffolk County Executive Bellone will introduce a bill to transfer ownership of Long Wharf to the village.

“I am hoping we can wrap this whole thing up by June,” he said. “I would advise the mayor to plan for this in his budget.”

While Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride had yet to hear formally from Schneiderman by Monday afternoon, he said he was willing to take on the burden of Long Wharf and will discuss the matter briefly at Friday’s budget meeting at 4 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman

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The Suffolk County Legislator talks about how Suffolk County wound up with an estimated $200 million hole in its 2012 budget and some of the tough choices – including possibly raising sales tax revenues on some goods – government leaders are going to have to make to ensure Suffolk County can continue to operate.

Suffolk County is facing about a $200 million deficit in its 2012 spending plan. How did we get here?

There are people who will argue what the exact size of the deficit is, but I do believe it is close to $200 million. We got here a few ways. First, we haven’t raised revenues and taxes have stayed the same, so we don’t have more income coming in. We lost close to $100 million annually in sales tax revenue when the recession hit and the state has placed a lot of extra burdens on the county. In particular, the state changed the funding formulas for health care and social services, so that things we are mandated to provide we no longer are reimbursed for by the state. At the same time, health insurance costs went through the roof, and the state pension program requires us to make up any deficits when their portfolios are not performing well in the market, so that is another $40 to $50 million we need to find each year. Contractual obligations, like salary raises, add tens of millions of dollars more to what we need to make up.

In essence, what you are saying is that Suffolk County doesn’t have a spending problem, but cannot meet its non-discretionary obligations?

Discretionary spending we have actually been reducing. The county budget itself has been growing at less than one percent a year, which is less than the rate of inflation, but this $200 million hole has been forming since we hit the recession. When that happened, at first, we had economic stimulus monies to help us – $40 million for Suffolk County alone. That helped fill the hole. We also sold things, and we used our rainy day funds so that we would not have to use property taxes to raise revenues. One of the biggest ways we filled that deficit was through our tobacco money.

Tobacco money?

There was a national lawsuit settled several years ago with the big tobacco companies and the county got about $25 million year for 40 years under that settlement. We decided instead of waiting the next 30 years, and collecting annually, that we would sell the right to collect that money in exchange for a big chunk of it upfront. We got several hundred million dollars and paid down the county’s debt.

I think we were all hoping the recession would end, the economy would bounce back and we would see an increase in our sales tax revenues. That just didn’t happen, and we ran out of things to sell and no one wants to raise property taxes, including me. I would rather us look at other revenue sources.

The other side of the coin is, as the county has seen an decrease in our sales tax revenues and increase in our non-discretionary expenses as the economy has worsened, the demands on the county have also increased. Our homeless population has skyrocketed, crime has increase, more people rely on our health care clinics. We have less money, and more demand. We have reduced our workforce, eliminated positions that were budgeted and the county did not fill when people retired. This budget we have passed for 2012 has an immediate 80 positions being eliminated. About 700 positions will be eliminated late this year if we cannot find the money to fund them.

So that’s a lot of bad news. Are there cuts that can be made?

I don’t believe we can continue to contract the county workforce because there are demands on the county that are mandated to be met and we need people to deliver those services. For example, in our health department it will come back to haunt us if people cannot get approvals to set up a new business or if people are getting sick because we are not inspecting restaurants. I believe we are already operating on a skeleton crew level, so reducing the size of government is not the solution.

So if cutting is not the answer, what is?

We are going to need to increase revenues by either successfully stimulating the economy, providing incentives for new businesses to come to Suffolk County and create the infrastructure that will lead to economic growth.

We have to look at things like how we can bring money into the economy and keep it from leaving. For example, most of our waste is trucked to other states and processed there. If we could find a way to cleanly recover and process waste, sell the reusable material and convert leftover waste into energy that could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars and lower the cost of running the county as well.

Another option, and I know a lot of people may not like this, is gaming. I have never liked gambling – I have seen it destroy lives. I don’t do it. However, a lot of people are going to Connecticut and hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent there at gambling facilities, helping Connecticut’s educational system. I would rather they spend that money here. Obviously, I would not want to see it on the South Fork, but I believe we could find an appropriate location and it could add $100 million in revenue to the county alone. When we have something like that, we are not talking about raising taxes.

The other piece is, of course, tourism. We have done such a good job preserving our natural resources on the East End. Tourism is an important job generator and stimulates the economy helping local businesses, restaurants and hotels. We have the open spaces that bring people here, but we may need more hotel rooms. The revitalization of Riverhead and Riverside will be a major priority of mine in this term.

In terms of tourism, we have often talked about the viability of a passenger water taxis.

That is certainly another idea I have had. I would like to see a small, 20-person water taxi start with a leg from Sag Harbor to Greenport as a pilot program. Then we could expand it to Riverhead, Orient Point and Montauk. I think a lot of people would come here, without their cars, if we had that kind of service available. It could be tied into environmental tourism, hiking, biking, using our beaches. The idea of being able to see all of the Peconics by water is just awesome and it is those kinds of ideas that are going to help us get to where we need to be.

What about sales tax revenues?

Sales tax, in general right now is at 8.625 percent, and of that four-percent goes to the county, four-percent to the state and the rest to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – that is a whole other issue. So if you spend $100, you are charged $8.62 in sales tax. If weadded $0.25 to that it would cost you $8.87 in sales tax for every $100 you spend. That would generate about $70 million for the county, which would really help close this budget hole. It would keep things from falling a part. Do I like the idea of raising sales tax, no. I would much rather create a luxury tax, so I would look at ideas if we did raise sales tax to eliminate all sales tax for clothing under $100, for example. Right now, the county only exempts food sold at grocery stores. If we were to raise sales tax I would also like to have it be a one-year authorization. It wouldn’t be permanent, but an emergency measure and if in doing that we take away sales tax altogether for clothing under $100, we are shifting the burden towards luxury items. I also like the idea of sales tax free days to help boost business. Too much merchandise is being purchased on the internet and if we can create an incentive to buy locally it would help local merchants and it would keep money in Suffolk County, which is what we need to do.