Like many, Chris Nuzzi is frustrated by the bi-partisan bickering that is infecting politics from the Federal to the local level. Hamptons.com spoke with the Southampton Town Councilman who is running for the Suffolk County Legislative seat presently held by Legislator Jay Schneiderman.
“Suffolk County is on the road to financial oversight, with fiscal conditions that frankly are as bad if not worse than Nassau County,” noted Nuzzi. “The county presently has a debt service of $1.4 billion and it will rise to $1.75 billion in 2015. The consequences of which will be service cuts, mass layoffs of county workers and a potential bond rating downgrade. The county has to get its financial house in order, but there seems to be little political will to do so.”
Nuzzi sited an almost “smoke & mirror” approach by the present legislature and County Executive with a “reliance on a rosy outlook regarding a sales tax increase to close the budget gap and solutions like selling the H. Lee Dennison building for $70 million and then buying it back over the next 20 years. The Foley Nursing Facility remains on the county spread sheet as a $17 million dollar asset that is up for sale, but it has not sold, so where is the asset?”
Nuzzi wants to bring what he considers the successes achieved by the Southampton Town Board during his tenure to the county seat of government, “We revamped the town workforce cutting it by 15% while still maintaining and in many cases improving services. We retired old bonds, borrowed only when necessary with lower interest rates and produced a surplus across all funds. We lowered the town tax levy by $55 million resulting in only the slightest rise in property taxes.”
“There are critical issues that must be addressed at the county level, particularly water quality issues regarding the Peconic estuary and septic regulations. There are air quality issues and only recently, 2 weeks ago, did my opponent address the issue of Lyme disease, a problem that is rampant on Eastern Long Island. These are quality of life issues that directly impact our constituents.”
“What I find most frustrating is the lack of cooperation on the part of both parties in the legislature. It is a Democratic Party dominated body with a Democrat as County Executive, yet no one is standing up to the state regarding mandates like $230 million in Medicaid reimbursements. Considering that our Governor is also a Democrat, I would think that some consideration would be forthcoming.”
When asked what his priorities would be if elected Nuzzi said, “If elected my first act would be to call the County Executive and make it crystal clear that I am willing to work across the aisle with him to implement the critical fiscal reforms necessary. I would urge the Health Department to address the issue of water quality, nitrogen run off and stricter septic regulations. Finally, I would look at every department of the Suffolk County government and streamline them to be more efficient and cost effective.”
Finally Nuzzi noted, “We need cooperation not confrontation in the Suffolk County Legislature, we are at a critical crossroad and I would reach across the aisle on every opportunity to implement the very much needed fiscal reform required, while maintaining services and the quality of life county residents deserve and expect.”