NY's Suffolk County cuts capital budget by 21 percent

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 17, 2012 2:44 PM
NY's Suffolk County cuts capital budget by 21 percent

By Joan Gralla

(Reuters) - Next year's capital budget for New York's Suffolk County will be cut 21 percent because of the county's strained finances, the county executive said on Tuesday, despite the risk that such reductions could limit economic growth and job creation.

The capital plan for 2013 would fall to $129.9 million under the proposal by County Executive Steve Bellone. The program for the current year totals $163.8 million, he said in a statement.

The reductions are needed to help lower how much debt Suffolk County takes on, the Democratic county executive said.

Suffolk County, located on Long Island's eastern half, has about $1.3 billion of long-term debt, according to Moody's Investors Services.

The county, best known for beach resorts frequented by the wealthy in summer, is coping with a severe fiscal hangover.

Suffolk County has a three-year deficit of $530 million, and must raise cash next week by selling $85 million of revenue anticipation notes.

The three-year plan Bellone proposed, which must be approved by the legislature and would run from 2013 to 2015, would total $437.9 million, Bellone's spokeswoman said. That is an increase from the current $417.9 million three-year plan.

The new three-year capital budget plan would still pay for projects needed to keep the economy growing, Bellone said.

"This is a leaner capital budget than we've seen in the past, but we are making critical investments in long-term economic growth, public safety and infrastructure," he said.

One of the capital projects that will be funded is a $5 million initiative called Jumpstart Suffolk, dedicated to development projects that "encourage job creation, mixed use housing, enhance public transportation and provide vibrant attractions," Bellone said.

Projects cut include a proposed $17 million gym and sports arena for Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, and a $2.15 million building where materials needed during hurricanes would have been kept, a spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by James Dalgleish)