SUFFOLK COUNTY VILLAGE OFFICIALS ASSOCIATION (SCVOA) MEMO
From: Suffolk County Village Officials Association (SCVOA)
To: All Suffolk & Nassau County Village Officials,
NYS State Representatives, General Public
Re: January 30th, 2014 Hearing Regarding NYS
Legislation Establishing a Long Island Water
Representatives of the Suffolk County Village Officials Association (SCVOA), representing the 33 Suffolk County villages, attended a 1/30/14 meeting called by legislation sponsors Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Bob Sweeney. SCVOA President and Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino, Mayor Allan Dorman (Village of Islandia), Mayor Paul Rickenbach (Village of East Hampton), SCVOA Executive Director Paul Tonna and representatives from the Village of Mastic Beach articulated grave concerns regarding the current proposed legislation for creating a Long Island Water Commission. While we believe in on-going dialogue with NYS sponsors and environmental advocates of the legislation, we do not believe that a simple fix or amendment will assuage our opposition to this legislative initiative. WE OPPOSE THIS LEGISLATION as it is currently written. SCVOA representatives focused on three primary concerns, namely: Process, Home Rule/Local Zoning, and Fiscal Responsibility.
1) Process: Villages Must Be Consulted at the Beginning of
the Legislative Process
- We believe NYS Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) was the first to insist that LI villages be consulted. We thank NYS Senator Martins for alerting us to and insisting that our voices be heard with regard to the proposed legislation.
- Villages should have been included in the process of drafting the bill from the very beginning. Village participation in the process and ongoing communication with the villages are essential.
- Suffolk County villages are always open to dialogue and collaboration, especially when it comes to environmental issues, but collaboration is a "two-way" street.
2) Home Rule/Local Zoning: Absolutely NO Usurpation of
Village Home Rule/Local Zoning Control Will Be Accepted
- Usurping local control/home rule of village zoning decisions/codes is unacceptable and a non-negotiable NON-STARTER.
- Suffolk County villages have an excellent reputation as being on the forefront of environmental protection. Therefore, it is unnecessary for non-municipal environmental advocates to request NYS to enact legislation to create a non-elected "overlord" commission to dictate, approve and/or deny local zoning decisions regarding water quality.
3) Fiscal Responsibility: An Impartial Financial Impact
Statement Must Be Provided Before Suffolk County
Villages Will Support Any Legislation and There Must Be
NO Additional Costs Mandated to Villages
- Suffolk County villages are among the most fiscally responsible local governments and, unlike school districts, are subject to an unjust and irresponsible NYS spending "tax cap" system, where operating and capital budgets together are subject to the 2% spending tax cap law. This results in local elected officials having to make draconian budgetary decisions that exacerbate the financial challenges of snow removal, repairing roads and capital infrastructure, responding to storms like Hurricane Sandy, raising NYS pension costs, etc.
- Suffolk villages oppose any NYS Water Commission legislation until there is a fully vetted financial impact statement provided by independent financial professionals. Any additional NYS unfunded mandates will be opposed by the villages. The villages will not support any legislation that adds to its already onerous series of unfunded mandates. In other words, any and all costs associated with any new NYS legislation must be completely paid for by NYS.