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Suffolk County Faces Up To $1.5B Budget Shortfall

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Office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks to residents via Facebook on Monday.

A task force charged with tracking the financial impact the coronavirus will have on Suffolk County expects a $1.5 billion economic shortfall over the next three years. That is with no additional relief from the federal government.

The task force looked at how revenue will be affected by the first wave of infection, a potential second wave, as well as business shutdowns related to the pandemic. Sales tax is expected to take the largest blow as the county’s main source of revenue, about a $330 million downturn this year. That’s without a second wave.

Property tax collections are likely to drop by $35 million. More households are unemployed and have paused or reduced their mortgage payments.

Off-track betting could take a $30 million hit with the temporary closure of Jake’s 58 casino in Islandia.

County Executive Steve Bellone says Long Island's congressional delegation is pushing for federal assistance.

“They will not accept the idea that the national government in a national emergency is going to essentially force the burden from this response to fall on the shoulders of local taxpayers, police officers and public health workers and essential employees.”

Projections show the economic recovery will be slower than after the 2008 recession. Economists say the budget gap in Suffolk County is too extreme to close without federal aid.

Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.
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