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Deal to Restore $2.9 M to Suffolk Drinking Water Protection Plan

Hauppauge - (WALK) Suffolk County officials and local environmentalists say an agreement is near to restore $2.9 million taken from the county's Drinking Water Protection Program, and place voters in charge of the reservoir of funds in the future.

County Executive Steve Bellone, the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), and leaders among local environmental groups described details of the tentative agreement at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown Wednesday.

The Drinking Water Protection Program is funded by a quarter percent sales tax, enacted in 1987. The county diverted $29.4 million in 2011 during the administration of former County Executive Steve Levy.

Current County Executive Steve Bellone reportedly borrowed funds in 2013 and plans to use additional monies from the fund this year  Under terms of the agreement all borrowing would end in 2017, with repayment to begin in 2018.

The measure must first be approved by the county legislature before it can go before voters in November.  A public hearing is scheduled before the legislature on June 17, lawmakers would vote to approve or reject a referendum on July 29th, according to Gregory.

Photo: David North/ WALK

 

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