Ed Romaine Brookhaven Supvr- Sponsored by Brookhaven Rail
January 25, 2013 @ 12:00 am EST
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"This has been the longest recession in history." That is the sentence that our speaker, Ed Romaine began his formal remarks. Mr. Romaine won a recent election for Town Supervisor of Brookhaven. He will have to run again in one year
As a result of the recession there has been a cut-back of town personnel, and that has created other problems. Ed cited the fact that there was no one on staff that had the legal capabilities to pay the bills, not even the supervisor himself. He went into a little detail on how the problem was resolved. I believe the point was that you cannot cut costs in a willy-nilly fashion.
Romaine stated that town had too much retail and not enough manufacturing and that unbalance is not sustainable. He noted a few examples that could be opportunities such as the abandoned Kmart location in Middle Island, and the UA Theater. These properties can be converted to higher uses and those places need to be examined.
Brookhaven is a councilmatic town. Each councilman defends his local turf rather than taking the overall benefit of the entire town to influence policy. This political structure is an impediment to good planning and governing.
Among the ideas that the supervisor discussed was the Ronkonkoma Hub. The mix of residential and commercial would be transit-centric and attractive to people who work in New York City. The tax revenue created would benefit Brookhaven and Islip.
Years ago when the airport was expanding Romaine and LIMBA advocated vigorously for the building of the new terminal adjacent to the Long island railroad. Having lost that direct link to the rail system he is now advocating the building of a light rail link from Ronkonkoma station to the terminal. He even suggested that a maglev system could be built with the idea of demonstrating the viability of the technology.
The supervisor then went on to discuss the landfill. That landfill is now a regional land fill having all of the others closed. There is a need for us to consider new technology in handling waste. Ed suggested that system called single stream recycling be implemented. That merely means that the homeowner is the one responsible for sorting the garbage. He claims that there would be an efficiency to be had by doing so.
The town has had eight years of unbalanced budgets that were supported by a large surplus. That surplus is now below the legal limits of the statute that created it. Romaine now has the daunting task of working within the limits of the revues that the town is able to raise through taxes. To make matters worse that tax base has not been growing while the needs of the town have. He has already taken steps that will abandon the short term, interest only, debt that Romaine refers to as "paycheck loans" and resort to long term debt that costs a little more because interest and principal must be paid. This has resulted in a superior bond rating, AAA.
During the lively Q&A many of the issues were explored further.