Members and friends:
Friday our speaker was Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Mr. Levy, as most of you know, is a very engaging speaker. He began by reviewing the financing of the budget and pointed out that a relatively large decrease in county taxes makes a small impact on the taxes we pay, because most of our taxes are absorbed by the school districts.
Having made that point, he stressed the need to reduce or contain taxes is important on every level. His efforts at redeploying the police from desk jobs to street jobs put more police in effective crime fighting duties and fewer desk assignments. The desk assignments were filled with less critically skilled civilians that drew commensurately lower pay
Services vs. taxes is the balance that an executive must constantly make. Should we retain or expand services at the cost of raising taxes? IASked Levy. n the days of Long Island’s economic expansion that question was less of a dilemma. With a wildly expanding economy we can and did expand services, and that money was well spent., according to Levy. Today we have circumstances that demand that we spend the taxpayers money wisely. We must not make living here so expensive that we lose our tax base and further exacerbate the problem. “Don’t sacrifice the good for the sake of the (unachievable) perfect” was his closing remark on that topic.
He gave the example of having the County operate a nursing home. According to Levy the County loses $11 Million per year on that nursing home. Mr. Levy says that the private sector can do that same job cheaper even if it 100% funded by taxpayer money.
Providing major infrastructure is now more difficult because in the past state and federal monies provided 87% of the funding, today it is zero. Bubkis, if you will (bubkis has been described as a big zero with rim removed).
Optimistically, as Steve was winding down his talk, he cited our capacity to be the energy-centric region of the country, creating thousands of jobs in the emerging green energy industry. Coupling the various research and learning centers such as Brookhaven Labs, SUNY Stony Brook, and Cold Spring Harbor Labs, with major industrial entities, such as Keyspan/National Grid, we can win the global battle for energy independence and create those high paying jobs. He also had similar remarks about the developments in wireless communications that are being advanced at Stony Brook