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Steve Levy, County Executive
September 8, 2006 @ 12:00 am EDT
This morning our speaker County Executive, Steve Levy addressed a number of issues that were of interest to the gathered guests. He explained the role of an executive in contrast to a legislator. As the county executive your programs and budgets have to recognize that one action may be in competition with another valid need. He didn’t describe it this way, but apparently, as an executive you are in a Solomonesque situation.
The County Executive describes himself as a fiscal conservative, and his actions indicate that he cares about dollars spent. “There is a need to provide services to the people, but higher taxes, can kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” Therefor a delicate balance is Levy’s goal.
He claims to have lowered cost by limiting services available to the executive and his staff. Most of the cars used by the executive department are gone. His own salary was cut upon him taking office. “You don’t solve a budget crises with these measures, but you do set an example.” He said that the county must look for ways of raising revenues as well cutting costs. One of the ways he raised revenues was the leasing of county owned building roofs for cell phone towers.
He is an advocate of innovative ways of getting things done. As an example he contracted with the Town of Southampton to plow county roads. “After all their equipment is already clearing town own roads, Why not let them keep going and clear county roads, and save the county the trouble, and we’ll pay them?”
A similar approach to schools was proposed by Mr. Levy. He recognizes the difficulty of consolidating schools, but consolidating services to schools can be achieved without the specter of losing local control, a concept that the public likes. Pooling of school health plans are another example of savings opportunity.
Affordable housing was also a passionate goal of Mr. Levy. Given the fact that the major cost of housing is land, and the county owns a lot of it. Using that land in an intelligent plan to build these homes can alleviate the housing cost and fill those needs.
His goal of preservation of open land has resulted in the equivalent of three Central Parks being preserved.
Early in Mr. Levy’s presentation he discussed the need for an honest and transparent fiscal plan that makes sense to investors. As a result of that care to the balancing of the budget Suffolk County has enjoyed excellent bond ratings. Playing it straight in this area saves the taxpayers money, according to Levy.
Pictured: Steve Levy, Kevin Gershowitz, from Gershow Recycling and Ernie Fazio, Limba