by Steve Levy
Prop One: Would create a separate panel to draw the new legislative district lines after the next census. The measure mirrors a landmark law I passed in Suffolk in 2007 to take the redrawing of the lines away from politicians and put it in the hands of retired judges.
The law was later revoked by the Legislature’s Democrats once they realized that they would maintain their majority. Our original intent is mirrored in this state resolution. The naysayers claim that it doesn’t go far enough because board members are appointed by sitting officials. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. Vote Yes.
School Technology Bond: this would allow for the state to float $2 billion in bonds to purchase computer equipment for our schools under the guise of expanding pre-K services. Even if one favors more pre-K (which one shouldn’t because studies show it doesn’t work), the money should be paid for it from the regular operating budget, not through a huge borrowing. Vote no.
Treasurer Consolidation: would combine the offices of Treasurer and Comptroller in Suffolk County. I first proposed this idea back in the 90s. Consolidation could weed out some redundant positions, equipment and office space between the two departments. The savings would not be huge, but they would be identifiable. Suffolk is the only New York county that has an elected treasurer, which leads to more unnecessary patronage. The person who audits the books – the Comptroller – will continue to be elected by the public to preserve independence. As a side note, when casting the important vote on Comptroller, seek out the individual you believe will be most independent of the executive. Vote yes.
Sewer Fund: this would allow the Suffolk executive to extract $100 million for the general fund from a fund that was dedicated to stabilize sewer rates. In 2011 it was discovered there was so much excess money in the sewer fund that we could stabilize sewer rates for the next 20 years and still have $100 million left over. So, the fund was modified to allow for the surplus money to be for used for property tax relief and for the construction and remediation of sewers and septic systems. This meant areas such as Mastic/Shirley, Smithtown, Oakdale/Sayville, Kings Park and Ronkonkoma could get money for needed sewers. The present referendum would siphon money from these sewers to plug budget holes, only to be repaid with bonded money in future years. It also takes money from sewers to buy open space, even though there is a separate open space that was never touched. Vote no.