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Suffolk County, New York

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Transparency grading process


Suffolk County is one of 62 counties in New York on the eastern portion of Long Island. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,493,350. It was named for the county of Suffolk in England, from which its earliest settlers came. The largest county on Long Island, it measures 86 miles (138 km) in length and 26 miles (42 km) in width at its widest (including water). Its county seat is Riverhead, though many county offices are in Hauppauge on the west side of the county where most of the population lives. There are also offices in Smithtown, for the legislature, Yaphank and Farmingville. Suffolk and Nassau counties together are generally referred to as "Long Island" by area residents — as distinct from the New York City boroughs of Queens (Queens County) and Brooklyn (Kings County), which geographically make up the island's western end.

Website evaluation

Main Article: Evaluation of New York county websites

Last rated on Jan. 22, 2012

The good

  • Budget documents are published.[1]
  • Meeting agendas, minutes, and schedules are available.[2]
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[3]
  • Administrative officials listed under respective departments.[4]
  • Building permit applications are available.[5] Zoning requirements are noted for some individual towns within the county.
  • Financial and other audit reports posted.[6]
  • Contracts, bids and proposals are available.[7]
  • Local tax information is provided by the Office of Budget and Management.[8]

The bad

Budget

The county's proposed FY 2012 budget contains no tax hikes while preserving essential services for residents. The three largest drivers of increased costs to the county, according to the document, were mandated State pension contributions, staffing for a new correctional facility and mandatory increases in social services and Medicaid. Employee salary and benefit costs take up the largest portion of the county's budget. The budget calls for layoffs of 464 county employees, barring an agreement to concessions by the public employees union. The County Executive estimates that these layoffs will save nearly $32 million in 2012, and $37 million in 2013.[9]

In 2011, it was announced that Suffolk County planned to sell off $76 million in general obligation bonds. The county intends to use the money to finance nearly 150 capital projects. The tax exempt debt was rated Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service.[10]

Public employees

Elected officials

The County Legislature is made up of representatives from 18 different county districts. Members are:[11]

Name District
Al Krupski 1
Jay H. Schneiderman 2
Kate M. Browning 3
Tom Muratore 4
Kara Hahn 5
Sarah Anker 6
Robert Calarco 7
William J. Lindsay 8
Monica R. Martinez 9
Tom Cilmi 10
Thomas F. Barraga 11
John M. Kennedy 12
Robert Trotta 13
Kevin J. McCaffrey 14
DuWayne Gregory 15
Steve Stern 16
Lou D'Amaro 17
William Spencer 18

Other elected officials include:[12]

Name Position
Steve Bellone County Executive
Joseph Sawicki, Jr. Comptroller
Judith A. Pascale County Clerk
Thomas J. Spota District Attorney
Vincent F. DeMarco Sheriff
Angie Carpenter Treasurer

Administrative officials

The county's current executive is Steven Bellone. The Executive Department, headed by the County Executive, is made up of four main divisions: Budget & Management, Intergovernmental Relations, Labor Relations and Human Services.[13]

A county department directory can be found here.

Salaries

County salaries are compiled online by The Empire Center. As of 2011, the highest paid salary in the county was Suffolk County Police Department Deputy Chief Thomas Groneman, who earned $273,659.[14]

Pensions

Healthcare

Suffolk County employees do not contribute at all to their healthcare costs. Employee healthcare currently makes up 11% of the county's budget, nearly $309 million. The County Executive's proposed 2012 budget document called for concessions from county employees in this regard to stave off nearly 500 layoffs.[9]

Transparency & public records

The 2011 arrest of a news cameraman by the Suffolk County Police Department for filming a crime scene was nullified by the Suffolk County police commission. The news service was reported to be considering a lawsuit against the county.[15]

Taxes

The County collects a property tax based on assessments plus the value of improvements. It is paid by all residents who own land. The County is also authorized to collect a sales tax of up to 4%, on top of the 4% sales tax collected by the State. The county first decided to levy a sales tax in 1970. The county also collects fees for items such as off-track betting, County Clerk fees, motor vehicle fees, charges for various admissions, repayments for social services rendered, and monies from licenses, permits, and interest on money deposited in banks.[16]

Lobbying

The county does not provide information on any tax payer funded lobbying activity.

External links

References