While Suffolk County's long been a place where advocates are pushing for more sewers, the County executive and legislature this week announced they're exploring merging the sewer districts that do exist in the county into the Suffolk County Water Authority.
Add it to the growing list of things the County is hoping will help trim its $300 million deficit.
“We now need to hear from the public as we study whether this issue will make government more efficient, improve water quality and promote economic development,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement.
The idea comes one week after plans for , both expected to yield cost savings for the County.
The County now runs 21 separate sewer districts.
In addition to consolidation, Bellone said he's looking into setting up a loan fund to help homeowners pay for upgrades to septic systems, another move for helping with water quality.
Leaky septic systems can often affect the groundwater or contaminate bays, contributing to bacterial blooms. The program, which Bellone started when he was Babylon Town supervisor, would manage the fund.
Septic systems serve 70 percent of Suffolk County, a situation that developers and smart growth advocates have long griped about since it makes development very difficult.
“We’re very early in discussions, but we’re open to the possibility that consolidating water and sewer entities could result in cost savings,” Suffolk County Water Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Szabo said in a statement.
“However, we want to make it clear if we were to enter into such an agreement, then our water service customers wouldn't bear the costs of sewer district customers; the two interests would be kept separate, both in terms of rates and debt obligations. Any savings achieved would be through shared services, not by having our water customers subsidize sewer customers.”
Public meetings will be scheduled to give locals a chance to weigh in on the plan.
IDA Backs Historic Sag Harbor Church Redo
The conversion of the historic Methodist Church in Sag Harbor into a showroom for textile company Elizabeth Dow is set to get major backing from Suffolk's Industrial Development Agency.
Dow has already invested $3.1 million into the property, but the IDA plans to throw in $250,000 in property tax relief over 15 years, a $14,000 exemption on mortgage recording tax and a $42,000 sales tax exemption on building materials.
“Elizabeth Dow’s expansion is an economic success story for Suffolk. Not only did she move her company from New York to the East End, but she's investing millions of dollars back into the local community," Bellone said in a statement.
The once-vacant church will eventually house Dow’s design studio, factory, showroom and sales office, and 12 interns are set to be based there once the renovation is complete.
The building will run within a newly rezoned commercial district in Sag Harbor.
Dow textiles are world-renowned, with some of them on display in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. Some of her wallpapers are also hung in the White House.