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Suffolk Merger Referendum OKd for November Vote
Suffolk County voters will decide on Election Day whether a proposal to merge the offices of the treasurer and comptroller is a preferred cost-cutting consolidation or an avoidable political maneuver.
Twelve legislators—mostly Democrats—approved putting the referendum on November ballots while three Republicans voted no, two mavericks abstained and another member of the GOP was absent.
“With our fiscal crisis, it is critical that we look at all opportunities where we can consolidate departments, improve efficiency and protect Suffolk County taxpayers,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who proposed the measure, said in a statement after the vote.
Bellone, a Democrat, maintains that the consolidation would save $833,000 by merging the offices held by two Republicans to create a new elected office for a county Chief Financial Officer.
County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, who lost to Bellone in the 2011 elections and is running for re-election this fall, is opposed to the idea, arguing it would do away with needed checks and balances in county finances.
County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, who is term limited out of his job next year and favors the proposal, would run the office as interim CFO next year and then be allowed to run for the new post in 2014, should voters approve the merger.
Legis. Tom Barraga (R-West Islip) and Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) joined the body’s Democratic majority in approving the controversial measure.