“Although the East End represents only 10 percent of the county’s population, we contribute one third of every dollar collected in property taxes because of our higher property values,” points out Jay Schneiderman, a Suffolk County legislator from Montauk and the deputy presiding officer of the legislature.
Schneiderman, who is in his sixth two-year term as county legislator, announced Monday that the legislature has adopted a 2015 budget that holds the line on taxes—the 11th consecutive budget that does not include an increase in general fund property taxes.
A number of budget initiatives are specific to the East End.
1. An additional $1 million per year for three years for East End police departments. According to Schneiderman, East End departments have long been shorted when it comes to their share of sales tax revenue meant for police funding, and a disproportionate amount of sales tax going to western Suffolk police.
While western Suffolk towns are served by the Suffolk County Police Department, the five East End towns are served by individual town departments.
2. A South Fork teen suicide prevention program will receive $50,000 in county funding. The move is in response to a recent spike in teen suicides. A new mental health consortium, led by Family Service League in conjunction with Southampton and Stony Brook hospitals, includes improved psychiatric evaluations and counseling services, among other elements.
3. Suffolk County Transit’s new Sunday bus program will get an additional $500,000 for additional routes and extended evening hours.
4. New county positions will be filled in order to get water samples and investigate ground water contamination.
5. Funding will enable the county to hire an entomologist to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce Lyme and other tick-borne illness in Suffolk County.
The budget is awaiting County Executuve Steve Bellone’s signature.