Suffolk Notebook: Levy Defends Budget; Whooping Cough on Rise

More than three times the number of pertussis cases reported in 2011 during last year; county executive calls on legislators to 'step up to the plate' in demanding health care payments from county employees.

In response to Democratic legislators who in recent weeks have called his 2012 budget plan a "bad joke," and Republican legislators who have likewise called the plan inadequate, County Executive Steve Levy defended his plan on Friday.

He also called on the legislature to stray from using "one-shot gimmicks."

“My budget includes pragmatic steps that would generate an additional $50 million in recurring savings through measures including employee healthcare contributions and closure of the nursing home,” said Levy.

“However, the legislature thus far is talking only about ‘one-shot gimmicks,’ such as selling the county’s jail and buildings and then leasing them back from a third party," he continued.

According to a Newsday report, the county executive has stated that 464 jobs could be saved if county employees agree to collectively chip in $31 million to their health premiums.

Currently, county employees don’t contribute to their health care plans.

Gail Vizzini, the director of the Office of Legislative Budget Review, questioned at an October 11 legislature meeting whether or not those revenues would be realized.

Vizzini called Levy's plan "precipitously balanced on inflated revenue and understated expenditures. But that's my opinion."

An October 14 report issued from Vizzini's office (which is attached as a PDF) estimated Levy's budget to contain a $135.4 million shortfall.

Reports Whooping Cough More Than Triple in 2011

The Suffolk County Health Department commissioner said on Friday that the number of cases have more than tripled this year compared to 2010, and cautioned residents about the , which could, in severe cases, prove to be fatal.

“In order to contain the spread of infection, we ask health care providers to consider pertussis as a possible diagnosis when patients present with cold-like symptoms and a dry cough,” said Dr. James Tomarken, commissioner of the SCDHS.

“Early detection and appropriate antibiotic treatment is the key to minimizing symptoms and containing the spread of the infection,” he said.

The county health department has reported 179 incidents of pertussis so far this year, compared to 54 last year and 75 in 2009.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a few factors have played into the recent increase in cases, including better recognition of the infection and a waning immunity to the .

Nationwide, roughly 27,500 cases were reported in 2010, from just less than 17,000 in 2009.

While whooping cough could affect people of all ages, a higher percentage of cases is found in adolescents and infants, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Parents and physicians who’ve questions about pertussis may contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health at 631-853-3055.

Smithtown Rez October 24, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Lifetime healthcare with zero contribution after 10 years is excessive and not fiscally possible. In some cases reason needs to trump blind union support. If the state/county goes bankrupt, then nothing will get paid. Levy held the line on costs. Love him or hate him he asked prudent financial questions. If the candidates and/or present legislature think it does not work (which we all know they are just placating the electorate for now) they have yet to come back with a sustainable fix. And last, lets just wind this bloated county government down. Aside from Nassau county the rest of the country gets by just fine without it. There are reasons why every other part of the country does not need or fund this extra layer of government: it is not sustainable. And that is from the perspective of somebody who was born and raised in one of the areas, in the metro region.
Mark Wilson October 24, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Smithtown Rez, These Progressives with their "open immigration" policy want to overload the System with unsustainabe programs and "give aways", and then collapse the System. The don't like our republic form of Government, and to them, they want to "throw out the baby, AND THE, proverbial, BATH WATER" ! Basically, Progressives are the NEW SLAVE HOLDERS ! They see illegal aliens as "votes" and they will indenture them with the OLD "democrat party" myths, stringing them along with old, "pie in the sky" non-deliverable promises...the more unbelievable the promises, the more they take away Freedom for Everyone. And as you know, there is no more pie !
James M. October 24, 2011 at 04:58 PM
If you are against Illegal immigrants stop hiring employers that employ these people. Everyone is willing to turn a blind eye to employers using illegal aliens if they can get their landscaping for $5/wk cheaper. Why is it that many nannies and laborers are illegal? Who's hiring these people? Go after the business owners and stop blaming"progressives" for the ills of the world. Look at the people on the Conservative and Republican side, the business owners and the wealthy that hire illegal aliens before you look to blame Progressives. Progressives are just taking advantage of the situation to get votes but they are not the reason these people come here illegally.
George McKnight October 24, 2011 at 05:01 PM
@Kim, I'm not out of touch because I know what its like to wait on line for a bar of cheese, and bag of canned goods. Been ther and did that as a child. That said, We don't need to have our county government build any new housing when many towns is Suffolk have plenty of affordable homes empty and for sale. Lets rebuild neighborhoods and limit the growth of our school districts which will help control the out of control taxes we all face. That's what I was addressing from comments made by another guest. I would suggest that if tax dollars are used in regards to food pantries, lets do it with churches and alike, so to get the best bang for the buck, because we all know when its handled by government it cost to much.
Irene October 24, 2011 at 05:22 PM
You are right George and because you lived it, experience was your biggest teacher!
Andrea October 24, 2011 at 05:24 PM
This is ridiculous. Just because someone wrote something and posted it on the internet doesn't make it true. "Dave Gibson is a freelance writer and part-time political consultant living in Norfolk, Va. He is also a longtime volunteer with several animal welfare groups." Go ask an actual scientist about why supposedly eradicated diseases are creeping their way back into developed countries. About how supergerms can mutate and antibiotics have a short shelf life. Go look into what is happening to the immune systems of people in developed countries who have been pumped full of antibiotics. With all of Patch's oversight you would think they would keep some kind of lid on the mindless hysteria being posted...
Andrea October 24, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Kim, I don't know why you bring up the Greens at Half Hollow in some of your examples - but given that you cited the article about food banks and then referred to the Greens at Half Hollow (opposites sides of the spectrum here) - maybe you're the one who is out of touch?
Mo Neill October 24, 2011 at 05:44 PM
There is a shortage of affordable housing when homes costing less than $250,000. go begging for a buyer or renter, because many are falling apart after years of neglect, homes in need of extensive repair. So many neighborhoods with poor schools or the neighborhood is very tough with social pathologies of desperate people; Why so many people cannot afford housing at even that price could be because Wall St. saw an easy buck outsourcing jobs to cheap labor overseas with government tax subsidies of business expense, no matter how very real, very loyal and good workers were harmed when they couldn't commute to Sri Lanka or India or the Phillipines or China to continue on their jobs. It is because of loss of good union jobs that pay a decent living middle-class wage that caused so many to lose their hoimes, after they went through their savings, tapped out relatives and friends when they lost their jobs, lost their medical coverage . . .lost. About 2% of housing on LI is goivernment housing (compared to 67% in Holland.) Housing subsidy is a federal program under HUD, available or administered to state, county & local governments, so you are correct the county has no need of large housing subsidies. There might be use of tax dollars, but housing is fundamental.
Kim October 24, 2011 at 05:46 PM
"Lets rebuild neighborhoods and limit the growth of our school districts which will help control the out of control taxes we all face. " This is beautiful and so very true.
George McKnight October 24, 2011 at 06:19 PM
@Kim D, Well everyone wants and needs should be handled by the individual. That individual has to make the decision to relocate where they can find and fulfill their needs. Because someone's needs can't be satisfied does not mean that its governments responsibility to supply it. Short term yes not long term or life long. As for me I grew up in an apartment and my parents moved to where they could afford a home. Central Islip to be exact. I've walked that mile. Also your example of housing only shows that your into pitting classes against each other, shameful.
Frank H. October 24, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Is growth of school districts a problem?
Mark Wilson October 24, 2011 at 06:47 PM
George, for Progressives it's EVERYONE'S "responsibility" for everyone else that EVERYONE have somewhere or something to live in...these Progressives say it's a person's "right" to have a domicile of some kind; it's EVERYONE'S Collective Guilt there is no "affordable housing" for "EVERYONE". When it comes time to pay for this, EVERYONE has to pay for it. There is NO individual responsibility FOR ANYTHING. GOVERNMENT is supposed to provide. There is no "devil in the details" because when it comes to details, you have Progressives flummoxed.
Mark Wilson October 24, 2011 at 06:50 PM
" With all of Patch's oversight you would think they would keep some kind of lid on the mindless hysteria being posted..." Progressives HATE Free Speech or an opinion contrary to theirs. Totalitarianism is their Friend.
Mark Wilson October 24, 2011 at 06:53 PM
A Long, Steep Drop for Americans' Standard of Living Published: Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 | 2:15 PM ET Text Size By: Ron Scherer Christian Science Monitor Think life is not as good as it used to be, at least in terms of your wallet? You'd be right about that. The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago. Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant. In short, it means a less vibrant economy, with more Americans spending primarily on necessities. The diminished standard of living, moreover, is squeezing the middle class, whose restlessness and discontent are evident in grass-roots movements such as the tea party and "Occupy Wall Street" and who may take out their frustrations on incumbent politicians in next year's election. http://www.cnbc.com/id/44962589/A_Long_Steep_Drop_for_Americans_Standard_of_Living
Andrea October 24, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Mark, Stick to copying and pasting the garbage of other crazy people... It seems to work better for you. You and everyone else in this country have the right to speak freely - it just would be nice if sometimes it included some basis in fact and truth...
Mark Wilson October 24, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Andrea thanks for your Tolerance of another person's opinions. One of the hallmark traits of Progressives.
Andrea October 24, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Couldn't care less about your opinions. The simple fact that you label everyone who disagrees with your insane posts a "Progressive" (with a negative spin) discredits anything you say in my mind. However, you don't really post opinions - and certainly not opinions of your own. You post OTHER PEOPLE'S writings as if you are somehow citing factual research, which, of course, they are not. I've seen you do that in lots of threads - never cared much to get involved - but you posting that "article" about diseases brought into the country by illegals... way too ridiculous to let it pass without comment. I would hate to think some unsuspecting reader would actually read that and think "oh my god that's true" when it is not at all the case.
Smithtown Rez October 24, 2011 at 08:53 PM
@ Mark Wilson...ummm. I agree with pretty much nothing regarding your political stance (or your rants noted above), but it appears you agree with some of my perspective. And that is what is absent from today's political landscape...reason and compromise. If I told you that I was a registered Democrat that always votes PERSON first and PARTY second would you read my comments through a different lense and then suddenly disagree? Screaming out names and painting broad inflammatory brush strokes is not freedom and democracy...coming to consensus and compromise is. I do though agree with Mr. Marshall's comments in this thread that note we should enforce the laws on the books as it pertains to employers.
Smithtown Rez October 24, 2011 at 08:58 PM
My only difference of opinion is the notion that homes under 250k qualify as "affordable" when considering the property tax and homeowners insurance required for this region. Long Island needs to figure out how to develop more affordable young couples and young professional housing (nothing wrong with the right public/private sector partnership to accomplish this). Illegal basement apartments for 1k and up a month are not a solution. Just my two cents.
George McKnight October 24, 2011 at 09:33 PM
@Smithtown Rez, Many of these homes are under $200K and the issue is the Taxes. I agree with you those apartments as you described are I'm sure illegal ones which of coarse cause us to all pay more taxes. What may I ask is professional housing, a home is a home. We don't need more built with county money when we have the multitude of available homes already. There is no money to continue to subsidize peoples life style.
James M. October 24, 2011 at 10:22 PM
This article is from 2005. How is it relevent?
Irene October 24, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Peoples life styles are what they make of it. No one is guarenteed anything except for life and liberty and the ...."pursuit of happiness". It's the pursuit that makes it incombent upon oneself to carve out a comfortable life, it's not the role of government at all. If you believe your happiness rests on things that you enjoy like an updated home, a 2011 vehicle, a vacation to a tropical port of call, it's up to you to pay cash money for it. If you can't make cash money to afford that life, do something to your current condition to make cash money. The only on time payment I have ever made was to my mortgage, which of course was only because we purchased the most affordable home that one salary could pay for and still have spending money left over. Otherwise, you don't buy until the right time comes, which by the way may never come. Oh well.
George McKnight October 25, 2011 at 12:06 AM
@Kim D, Yes I believe in Free Markets and if a developer wants to built something by all means. Just a note of information, building cost are about $265.00 a square foot so a 1000sq. ft home will cost the developer $265000 dollars to build, add in land cost, Approx $75,000 to $100000 for a quarter acre, then profit, I would guess your talking about $400K to $475K. We can do better with what is available already.
George McKnight October 25, 2011 at 01:12 PM
Kim D, I am always in favor of development for the 55 and over community. These properties help keep many of our citizens here on Long Island who want a Townhouse style living. These communities are not a burden on local school districts and add positive income to the local tax base. The community you point out satisfies a luxury market and many others across Suffolk vary in price ranges to accommodate everyone's needs and income level. Seasoned residents spend money in our local markets, restaurants, shops, which helps our local economy. Some communities receive partial tax breaks because they don’t add to the school district population. It also allows them to stay here on Long Island and not relocate to other states.
George McKnight October 25, 2011 at 02:15 PM
@Kim D, Again shameful Kim, you want to twist my words to meet some agenda your on have fun. I have no problem with people having children. I don’t know anything about the Avalon project so I can’t answer to that. Its my opinion that density building hurts school districts. With strapped budgets and growing class sizes the increase a large addition community will make that condition even more difficult. There is plenty of affordable housing available in Suffolk County. Kim each child cost about 12,000 to 15,000 dollars a year to educate, so your district I would guess has the necessary facilities to handle the amount of student it now educates. I would guess the taxes now paid by local residents they feel are high like most Long Island communities. Part of making the decision to build a community as your talking about has to take that into consideration. A large problem in local communities, Yours being no different, is the illegal housing. Multiple families in single family houses have caused a great burden on school districts. Town officials have turned a blind eye to this for so long it is now out of control in some communities. When I lived in Brentwood, I had at least 7 Neighbors with illegal apartments. This is a drag on all of us. Great for the landlord, but we all pay for their greed. We need to fix the issues we have now before we add more to the current problems.
Smithtown Rez October 25, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Professional housing = reasonable one and two bedroom apartments. LI communities rarely support that type of commercial/housing density. It is why basement apartments are one of the few options. It is this lack of transitional housing that drives recent college grads and young families to other metro areas that have a much better diversity of housing inventory.
George McKnight October 25, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Not looking to belittle you, just don't want anyone to twist my words to make their point. No need for that either. I believe we are both grown ups here.
George McKnight October 25, 2011 at 04:11 PM
@ Smithtown Rez, without a very large commerical tax base many communities can not sustain that type of housing. When these communities are proposed the town officials have to take into account the affect this will have on traffic, schools, hospitals and other services. Case in point Hauppauge and Commack have a large rental community within its school districts and a large Commerical zone which supports it. Most towns don't have that large a tax base. We have to stay within our means or none of us will be living here.
Smithtown Rez October 25, 2011 at 08:51 PM
I (politely) disagree. Most school districts have had declining or flat enrollments at best. Including those in the communities you mentioned. Smithtown has been essentially flat for the past 5 years with declines at the elementary level as we consider a school closure to save money, and account for the decline. I see little if any impact if some intelligent dense housing (hundreds, not thousands of apartments) were built. I am also talking about young professional housing; a population (of which I am no longer a member....sigh) that is typically pre-children. The burden if any, would be minimal. If you want to further drive commercial growth you need a replenishing educated workforce to support the hiring needs of companies to want to join the commercial tax base and/or people who are new business professionals to want to remain and grow their own business. Basement apartments do not cut it. Take the old Hummer building and create lofts. Convert the abandoned Smithtown Lumber yard into young professional studios. You'll see the vacant storefronts on that same strip suddenly fill up again. Another boon to the commercial tax base. We can not keep waiting solely on houses to drop to 175k to keep our community moving forward.
George McKnight October 26, 2011 at 05:12 PM
After some light reading Rez, your right your school district enrollment has stayed level and you may even be renting out one of your elementary schools. That said there still has to be an attraction for business to come into this area and remain long term. Our present taxes are too high and that's driving people away and stagnating growth. There are plenty of educated professionals here now, but businesses are leaving for better work atmospheres. The control has to come first from county and local government. You said it best in your earlier comment, the unsustainable growth of benefits and salaries of government. Politicians want to keep there jobs and cater to union pressure, its time people pressure all politicians to regain control or oust them. That also includes the school districts. I and I'm sure you remember when younger, government jobs were great. You weren't going to get rich with them but you had a steady job and good benefits. Now government jobs, which produce nothing, pay higher then private sector jobs on average. That's a joke and has to change. Until we bring under control government spending there will be NO growth in our economy. Without that growth there is no need for more housing.( Politely My Opinion)


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