Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Declares Fiscal Emergency

Untold Hundreds Of Layoffs Possible As Gap Expected To Widen To $530 Million

COMMACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — We’ve seen bitter budget wrangling in Nassau County, but now Long Island’s county to the east, Suffolk, is getting hit with its own budget crisis.

The projected gap is historic, and a fiscal emergency has been declared, with layoffs possible in June, reports CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

“It’s now clear that Suffolk County is facing the greatest fiscal crisis in its history,” County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

Suffolk County’s budget gap is, indeed, staggering. That’s the finding of a blue ribbon panel. It will be an estimated $530 million by the end of next year. The new county executive delivered the budget bomb on Tuesday.

“The truth is worse than we could have imagined,” Bellone said.

The gap is two to three times higher than what was projected, and there were already more than 450 layoffs planned. Now workers from the Fleet Garage to police precincts are bracing for possibly hundreds more.

“My phone and my texts are ringing off the hook from workers who have heard their jobs will go,” said Cheryl Felice of the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On The Story

Why is there such a badly broken financial picture? The panel blames spiraling pension costs and sales tax revenue surprisingly among the lowest in the state. Bellone declared a fiscal emergency and ordered an immediate 10-percent spending freeze.

“The numbers that you have presented are truly staggering,” Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory said.

Lawmakers are floored by the numbers and workers said it’s now a gut-wrenching waiting game. Pink slips are being drafted and no one yet knows to whom.

The county executive will meet Wednesday with union leaders and will ask for steep concessions.

“I think a demoralized workforce is now devastated,” Felice said.

Everything is now on the table, from video lotteries to red-light cameras, and possibly even a higher sales tax could be employed to pull Suffolk out of its massive hole.

Former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who just left office, weighed in Tuesday, saying the budget would have been balanced had the county closed its nursing home as he proposed.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

  • Jer

    typical long island politics..
    play dumb, get elected, raise taxes
    play dumb, get elected, raise taxes
    and so it goes

    • Muldoon

      I have really bad gas.

  • Jerry

    Wake up Bellone!!!!!!!

    common sense is necessary here.

    Go bankrupt and renegotiate all pensions perks including those already receiving, its inevitable it will be addressed now is the time not nex;t week!
    Man up!

    • Jer

      hey stupid, its the pensions, or have you heard that already ?

  • VY

    So much for the NYC cops who were induced to leave the NYPD for the Suffolk County Police because of grossly bloated salaries and overtime. Now they will find themselves back to making what they made for the NYPD or less, and no place else to go. Nassau is broke, so eventually some of the younger cops may move out of NY all togethger, just like a high number of Long Island kids are doing as soon as they graduate college. Unless all the small towns and villages and education districts are consolidated to only a few, like 5 or less, the various levels of duplicate adminstrations to run all of these small sub county level government entities will continue to drive the overhead cost of local government ever higher, until the whole system just colapses.

  • John G Head

    Once and for all, in both national and local scenarios, publicly funded pensions and benefits packages MUST be scaled back if we are going to have any hope in pulling out of this mess!
    You cannot take jobs away from workers of today while keeping the funds where they are for the (un)workers of yesterday who are home collecting checks.
    It’s a sad state of affairs and would be a hard situation for many, but time and again these days you read of budget shortfalls and pensions being a big part of it.
    Pensions MUST be scaled back NOW, not cutting employment, which is already scarce to begin with!

  • El Capitan

    I saw this coming 30 years ago and left and went to a rite to work state, and esmerelda that comment you left, HUH?

  • Appalled

    And when all of these people are laid off…the people who keep your streets plowed when it snows, who protect your neighborhoods from crime, who keep your children safe, where do you think they’ll be? They’ll be getting unemployment. So instead of contributing to your community and adding to your life the things you seem to take for granted, they will be getting paid for nothing. MANY county employees barely make enough to make ends meet. Try using Google. Many of the salaries are posted online. And a lot of county employees are making less than $50k and even less than $40k. You can’t live off of that in Suffolk County. But they find a way and they work hard. Many of them use their own cars for work. Look at the cost of gas these days and having to pay for tires, etc. I question how many of the people quick to lay off county workers could afford to make $40k per year and have to come up with $400 per month for gas just for work purposes. The cost of EVERYTHING is rising. We may not like it but that means our taxes need to go up too. We already see people in times of desperation shooting people in pharmacies. So let’s add more people to the unemployment. This isn’t the answer and will have so many repercussions, its terrifying. Our county has HUNDREDS of people living in free housing, getting free food stamps, free healthcare and free daycare while they sit at home doing nothing to contribute to bettering our community. If we’re going to cut expenses maybe we need to look there. Putting hundreds more people out of work is not going to solve anything. And I guarantee everyone will start to see how much these people contribute. When there are more potholes in the streets and you have to repair your tires, when your beaches are filthy or your homes are broken into because people are desperate and there aren’t enough police. How many Nassau County CPS workers and Police Officers just recently lost their jobs? And the first time something tragic happens to a child, everyone will want to know…where was CPS???? The fact of the matter is there aren’t enough county workers to go around to begin with. They are overworked and underpaid. Laying off workers will only make matters worse and create major problems in the community. And these laid off workers, again, still have to get unemployment. Putting more people out of work doesn’t help anyone.

    • Harry Finer

      Public employees are overpaid and have ridiculously generous benefits, including pensions. Why should I, a privately employed man with much less generous wages and benefits, pay exceedingly high, punishing property taxes so some lazy bum cop can retire in his early forties and spend the rest of his/her life living high on the hog on a 100k per year pension. The county should file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9. Then, it could reduce wages and benefits, including pensions, for past, present, and future employees. Politicians are gutless, corrupt sacks of excrement interested only in winning elections with the support of public employees.

    • J

      I pay 10k in taxes a year for a 270,000 home. As tax payers, are we not doing our part already? Should I sell my car to continue to fund golden entitlements? Better yet, I should get a second job and give the money to the county pension fund. It is my duty to better the lives of others while diminishing my own. I’m so glad that I came across your post as to enlighten myself

  • LindsaY

    I actually work for the county and the only people with bloated salaries are the legislatures and police. The rest of us get just enough to survive on long island. So just to inform eveyone that the people who are going to lose their jobs are the 1% and not the people who are at the top. I also live in the county and to lay off the number of people they want is going to leave the county without much needed job duties, like making sure the restaurants you eat at are clean and safe and making sure places don’t have sewage overflowing everywhere. The county workers actually do a lot to keep the county running and they aren’t high paying jobs.

    • Jer

      Why doesn’t your union open their mouth about the police union and pension explosion instead of expecting more money to waste?

  • Truth Be Said

    Unions are bringing our great county down. Period. The sky high salaries need to be cut by 20% immediately and the bloated pensions need to be reigned in. Suffolk has so many unnecessary public emloyees and layers of uneeded middle level personnel… it simply boggles the mind. I work for a private company that was part of a group that made recommendations to Suffolk county over 3 years ago to reign in public salaries and pensions, and our suggestions were completely ignored. Suffolk county needs to stop fudging the numbers, stop lying to the public, eliminate all political patronge jobs, and completely overhaul their dysfunctional county government.

  • Seriously

    I’ll laugh even harder when the county implements more shennigan taxes and get sued. Or worse, people just leave the island. Here’s a simple solution: Make the necessary cuts and stop spending. Its not rocket science.

  • UnionsRCancers

    You can thank the liberals for this. keep voting democrat,,,,sheep

  • Jimmy

    This here isn’t corporate greed. It’s probably because of Union greed.

    • whiteeagle

      Exactly right.

      It’s time to strip down the workforce to essentials. Law enforcement and the courts come first. Anything that does not directly benefit the taxpayers–and note that I said “taxpayers” and not the broader “residents”–should be cut to the core and eliminated if at all possible. User fees should be implemented for all county facilities where they do not exist, and increased to optimize income where they are already in place. It’s time put everyone who feeds at the public trough on a very strict diet.

  • Esmerelda

    This country cannot afford all the Corporate Greed and the long time
    Mid East Invasion, it will cause the country to collapse, incite riots and
    a revolution.
    We the people, not the 1% in holding power are going bankrupt.
    Stop the nonsense and start making the country a country again.

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