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Sound Bites: Suffolk County’s nearly $4 billion budget proposal

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone delivers his address to the opening session of the state's Democratic Convention, in Melville, New York.
Richard Drew
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone delivers his address to the opening session of the state's Democratic Convention, in Melville, New York.

Good morning.

In his final spending plan, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has proposed a $3.9 billion budget for 2024. 

The budget increases spending by just over 5% compared to this year while freezing property taxes for the general fund and the police department. He also calls for more police recruits, a reserve fund to be used for emergency repairs and 4% raises for all elected officials.

Bellone is term-limited leaving at the end of the year. He submitted the budget to lawmakers nearly a month after the original Sept. 15 deadline due to delays related to recovering from a cyberattack on the county government last year. 

He took office in 2012 when Suffolk faced a $500 million deficit. In recent years, the county has been flush with federal pandemic relief and high sales tax revenues.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else were hearing:

The Northeast was passed over by the Biden administration’s plan to create hydrogen hubs. A seven-state consortium led by New York, including Connecticut and the rest of New England, were not selected for the $7 billion bid. President Biden selected seven hubs around the U.S. to use hydrogen to produce renewable energy, without emitting greenhouse gasses. Connecticut has a decades-long history with hydrogen, with nation-leading research at the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology and FuelCell Energy in Danbury.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter rebuffs Suffolk County’s planned homeless shelter. Residents notified the town of their fears of a homeless shelter that the county has planned for a residential neighborhood — without community input. Carpenter said in a statement that she never received any information about Suffolk County intending to convert a former hotel into a homeless shelter. The town Division of Fire Prevention was sent to investigate and found several violations, she said.

Incumbent Joe Ganim will not appear twice on the Bridgeport ballot for mayor. A sample ballot released this week shows the New Movement spot blank. The ballot line did not meet the requirements to run Ganim as its candidate simultaneously with Bridgeport's Democratic Party. If his opponent, John Gomes, wins his court case accusing Ganim of absentee ballot fraud, there could be a mayoral primary do-over. If Ganim lost, the New Movement would have been a political lifeline to remain on the November ballot.

Connecticut State Police cruisers don’t store GPS coordinates. The vehicles have GPS installed to track where it is at any given time, but cannot record where the car was yesterday or even seconds ago. Advocates warn that this could make it difficult to hold law enforcement responsible when conduct comes into question. Ken Barone, co-author of a false ticket scandal, said the GPS information could help identify troopers with ticket discrepancies due to technical issues or data entry errors, as opposed to deliberately falsifying records.

Connecticut state employees’ insurance plans will cover fertility treatments for LGBTQ+ workers. The plans cover more than 265,000 municipal employees, retirees and their dependents. State Comptroller Sean Scanlon said he hopes that the effort will push private insurers to follow suit in Connecticut, while lawmakers iron out updating regulations. Only 21 states provide coverage on private insurance plans for fertility health care, including three that specify coverage for LGBTQ+ people.

Buying booze in New York just got a bit easier, according to a package of bills signed by Governor Kathy Hochul. Liquor and wine stores can open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. on Sundays. The legislation also allows for the sale of beer, mead, braggot and cider on any day of the week including Sundays. Doing business with booze also got better with a brewer’s license being expanded from one to three years, and retail stores can sell complimentary gift and promotional items related to wine and spirit sales.

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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.
Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.