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Op-Ed: Islip Supervisor Seeks Sachem's Ideas on Budgetary Challenges

Tom Croci outlines steps Town has taken to close its budget gap but also wants feedback from Sachem residents on what steps to take in the future.

Editor's note: The following was submitted to Patch by Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, who presides over certain sections of the Sachem community. The opinions in the piece are those of Croci and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Patch.

I have been privileged these past eight months to travel around our Town as Supervisor and represent the hard working families of Islip.  When I took office, I pledged that the Town Board and I would face the tough challenges head on.  The state of our Town’s finances was far greater than anyone could have foreseen.  As many of you are aware by now, we are trying to in our 2013 budget, which was caused by the reckless spending, and poor judgment by the prior administration and Supervisor.  

After two consecutive years of depleting our fund balance, we are left with few choices to balance our budget and prevent economic catastrophe in our town.  In order to continue the services which Islip residents deserve, the town will need to be funded at a certain level.  Islip residents have expressed to us repeatedly what they have come to expect in the way of services and facilities, but we need to have a frank conversation about the face and future of our town and what that will cost.

Upon taking office, the Town Board cut an entire department of the government and reorganized others, we cut executive salaries, we sold town property and are placing it back on the tax rolls, we are reducing the number and cost of town buildings, we cracked down on absentee landlords and code violators, we eliminated $1 million in capital projects that were set to be completed this year, and we used zero based budgeting to reduce town wide budgets by $3 million for 2013.  We have set the town on a course to be more efficient and more profitable in the coming years.  However, 2013 will require sacrifice and hard choices. 

We have cut our government down to the bone, but it is not enough.  Are residents willing to accept a mass reduction of Town employees which would result in decreased services and speed of response from Town departments? Do you think that we should halt our road paving and drainage projects indefinitely? Should we close our pools, ocean and bay beaches and parks?  Should we raise fees for permits and all services?  Are residents prepared to pay an extra $10 or $15 per month to sustain Town operations and current services? 

This is a decision that our community must make together.  This is OUR town. Tell us what you think. 

Freedom Works September 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Sounds like a good start. Here are some other ideas. Reduction of Town employees does not necessarily have to mean a reduction of services. Every organization has some employees that shine and some that don't. With the right management, you can likely improve service with less head count. If you are prevented from doing this for some reason (like a municipal employee union), then work to eliminate your obstacle. And please stop committing future generations to pay overly generous pensions. Outlaw "defined benefit" pensions and switch to "Defined contribution" plans only. With respect to public works. What is the Towns stance on "Apprenticeship Requirements". It is a policy that serves to increase the cost to the taxpayer (under false pretenses) by reducing competition. It basically, all but eliminates highly effective Non-Union companies from public works. Many Elected officials subscribe to this policy in exchange for support from the Unions. You may be able to save the $million and still get all projects done effectively. FREE enterprise and fair competition works!

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