Over the past century, Long Island has transformed from the nation The first suburb in one of the the most densely populated Like New York City inches east on a strip of icy sand and rock that actually has two of them The most populated Biology. But the beaches, the clam shacks, and the swampy streams full of trout That made the destination of Suffolk County, stretching from the center of the island to Montauk, is now in danger of extinction – to put it in the local parlance.
The old septic tanks into which the toilets and showers of many of the area’s single-family homes drain massive amounts of nitrogen into waterways, breeding blue-green algae blooms – very toxic. kills elephants – in twice the frequency than any other county in the state. fish thousands Every year they wash up on the beaches. actually threatened by salt water From sea level rise, the freshwater aquifer that provides drinking water on Long Island is contaminated with higher nitrogen levels.
The problem is that new, “advanced” nitrogen-filtering septic tanks usually cost at least twice as much as conventional models—a difficult investment for homeowners who pay some Higher property taxes and housing costs in the country.
So, Suffolk County went through a months-long process to get the state to agree to hold a referendum on whether it would raise money to introduce a fix: a county-run fund that would subsidize advanced septic tanks and repairs to septic systems in the cities where they are located. After receiving Albany’s blessing in May, the county planned to ask voters in November to decide on a sales tax increase of about 12 cents per $100. This would generate $56 million in the first year and allow the county to apply for matching funds from the state and federal governments that could increase the total to more than $1 billion.
In a surprise turn earlier this month, the Republican majority in the Suffolk County legislature removed the measure from the November ballot — a move critics have described as a cynical ploy to suppress the number of Democratic voters turning out to the polls in this off-year election.
The Republican Party, which controls 11 of the 18 seats in the legislature, has maintained its opposition to putting the measure on the ballot because of a disagreement over how the money should be spent.
Only 25% of the fund will be allocated to sanitation. This will involve merging dozens of separate Suffolk systems into one county-wide area, and expanding infrastructure in urban areas where global warming-induced changes in precipitation patterns are already flooding gutters and drains. The remaining 75% will support up to 400,000 homeowners who install high-end septic tanks, bringing the cost of a more expensive septic tank almost to the price of a conventional model. Republicans said a larger portion of the money should go to the sewer.
Keith Davies, a Suffolk County Democratic activist, said it was just an excuse to block a referendum that Whigs believed would spur more Democrats to vote in local elections where low turnout should favor incumbent Republican lawmakers.
“Republicans don’t want this referendum on the ballot because they know that when environmentalists get out to vote, they vote Democrat,” Davis said by phone Tuesday.
The Conservative Party, a minor statewide party that played kingmaker in a disputed Republican election in Suffolk, has pushed to call off the referendum on suffrage this year, according to Newsday.
“The Conservatives don’t want an environmental referendum on the ballot because they think it would work against Republican re-election in the fringe areas,” an anonymous political insider told the Long Island Official.
The Suffolk County chapter of the Conservative Party did not respond to emailed questions from HuffPost. A Suffolk County Republican Party spokesperson agreed to pass on an interview request to party chairman Jesse Garcia on Thursday, but the call had not been returned by Friday afternoon.
It’s a questionable account. In last year’s election, Republican Lee Zeldin handily won the New York gubernatorial race in his hometown with more than 58% of the vote, even as a statewide referendum on the $4 billion environmental bond bill passed with nearly 64% approval. “This seems to contradict the theory that environmental initiatives inspire voting along party lines,” wrote Newsday opinion columnist Michael Dobie.
However, all but one of the legislature’s 18 seats are still in play this year, including three held for the first time by Republican Representatives Dominic Thorne, Manuel Esteban and Stephanie Bontembe, all of whom ousted Democrats in 2021. Three Democratic seats are up for election, with Democrats Al Krupski and Bridget Fleming out for a second term, and Sarah Fleming narrowly out.
Suffolk Republicans can still hold the referendum on the ballot by invoking a special legal measure in the next legislative session on July 25. If they don’t, the county will need to start the process again in the next state legislative year. By then, Suffolk may have already lost out on some of the potential matching money it might be eligible for as federal agencies begin distributing money from President Joe Biden’s high-profile infrastructure laws.
“These are all grants. They are not going to sit with us forever,” said Dr. Eve Melzer-Creeffe, a pediatrician and Democratic School Board official in Huntington, who is running against Bontempy, an incumbent Republican, to represent the North Shore town of more than 200,000 residents in the county legislature.
If they do not go ahead with this referendum, they will have to return within another legislative year. “The state will have to agree to another referendum,” she said. “This money is by no means guaranteed.”
in the suburban area Infamously separated Depending on race and income, it’s the workers who will pay the highest price for inaction, said Ryan Stanton, executive director of the AFL-CIO-affiliated Long Island Federation of Workers. His union will benefit from building jobs, which the new sales tax will help fund if the referendum passes. But, he said, it is also these same workers who are dealing with the consequences of unmet infrastructure needs.
“The wealthy will be fine,” Stanton said.
“They are not the ones who repair, rehabilitate and repair sewage treatment plants when they are flooded by storms. They are not the ones who repair the road when it rains 9 inches in the evening and suddenly there is complete devastation on the state and local roads.” “They are the working people who are going out and fixing our communities.”