II—FOUR THE EAST HAMPTON STAR, EAST HAMPTON, N.Y., JANUARY 18,1979 Suffolk Closeup Karl Grossman GUEST SPEAKER: County Legislator Denis Hurley talked at last week’s Republican Club meeting at the Neighborhood House. He was greeted, above, by Supervisor Mary Fallon and David Lee, Club president. Cal Norris Government . . . and Politics Across The Board Councilman Hugh King Standing last week in Bridgehamp- ton on one of the few positive things happening in public transportation in this County—the Long Island Rail Road rails and trackbed being thor oughly renovated between Speonk and Montauk—was the person just pro posed as Long Island’s new represen tative on the Metropolitan Trans portation Authority. “I’m not satisfied with the Long Island Rail Road. I don’t think most people are,” Bob Waldbauer, the long time aide of former Representative Otis G. Pike and ex-Patchogue Mayor was saying after he was spotted by a passing reporter talking to two work men. By June or July, said Mr. Wald bauer, the tracks—which would shift, rattle, and pop up and down when a train rolled over them at a required reduced speed of 15 mph—should be in fine shape. It’s the first time in something like a half-century they’ve undergone renovation. By Summer So by summer, a south shore LIRR railroad train should make a run to and from New York as at fast a pace as it used to when this century dawned. For many years, the 1900 timetable provided for better service than current ones. The upgrading of this LIRR route, long called for by the people, isn’t purely a product of the State’s seeking improved public transport. These tracks lead to the hometown of the since defeated arch-rival of Governor Hugh Carey, Perry B. Duryea. Mr. Duryea complained regularly about them, Mr. Carey struck deep into Duryea turf, and amidst the guber natorial politics the work got on the way to finally getting done, many decades late. Otherwise, in many other ways we’re not even going back to the ef ficiency of yesteryear in public trans portation in this country. And the lack of movement, the killing of the most sensible of plans, comes as gasoline gets set to hit $1 a gallon, the cost of running constantly more expensive cars goes beyond 30 cents a mile and our population, particularly the young, the old, the poor and the handicapped, is more and more transit deprived in this auto-dominated country. Further, the price of building runways for Henry Ford’s high pollution gift to locomotion is skyrocketing. The latest highway job done in Suffolk, County Road 100 (Suffolk Avenue), came in last year at $1.9 million a mile. Canceled Meanwhile, the innovative pilot “dial-a-ride” in Brentwood, which was to be a harbinger of modern mini-bus local service in Suffolk, is to be canceled next month after a year of highly successful operation. The Coun ty Executive and a County Legislature majority have refused to continue its funding support. And, the well-received County “com prehensive transportation plan” and its “recommended public transit sys tem”—developed over several years— recently got a similar no from County officials. Phase One of this plan would pro vide for mini-bus “feeder service” in 26 population centers in the County- including East Hampton, Bridgehamp- ton, Southampton up to Noyac to Sag Harbor, Riverhead and Hampton Bays —to connect with existing and ad ditional “fixed bus routes” along main highways in Suffolk, with rail points and commercial and employment cen ters hooked in. The program would cost $2.6 million with most of that coming in from fares and Federal and State support. The County would have to make up $917,500—the cost of paving less than ten blocks of Suffolk Avenue and for which Suffolk, widely regarded as having the worst public transit in the New York Metropolitan Area, would finally have a system. “I’m certainly disappointed,” said County Transportation Commissioner John P. Sheridan last week, “but I feel sooner or later we’ll have to address this. There’s a great need for public transit in this County.” Roadblock The roadblock here has been as sistance or subsidy for mass transit. There’s no successful public trans portation system in the United States working without government fiscal support, says Mr. Sheridan. It’s seen as a vital factor to make mass transit financially competitive with the auto, which has been provided a system of road networks in America through tax dollars. Conservative William Carney, now a Congressman and formerly head of the County Legislature’s trans portation committee, led opposition to County fiscal support for mass transit. And, a bus running along Montauk Highway has been showing how Suf folk residents will flock to rapid, efficient bus service if it is offered. In its second year, the line from Babylon to Patchogue of the Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority (an MTA subsidiary) has been drawing record numbers of people, now up to 1,200 a day. “If the service is good and reliable, and MSBA has done a good job, people will take the bus,” said Mr. Sheridan. Trying for some time to get govern ment to pay attention to his idea for monorail service along the Long Island Expressway has been Alvin J. Blake, with a background as a colonel with the Army Corps of Engineers, active in County arts affairs and like so many of us, caught many times in the LIE auto standstill. “It would take a little vision,” says Mr. Blake. Bright Spots Back on the tracks, Mr. Waldbauer was saying his “experience in trans portation” began when he was a pilot in a combat cargo group ferrying troops and supplies back and forth be tween India and Burma and China during World War Two and noted he was a district office manager for TWA in Manhattan for four years after wards. He said he would speak on the MTA board for the people of this area, and would invite complaints and re commendations to pass on. Leonard Braun, a prominent County Republican and MTA vice chairman, had been the Island’s representative on the agency. He has been bounced, after ten years, by Mr. Carey and charged last week the Governor was packing the MTA with City Demo crats, and criticized the appoint ment of Mr. Waldbauer, a Democrat. Mr. Braun said the LIRR needed bonding money to make improvements and to have thrown out its top and middle management, “who’ve been there since the days of [William] Ronan.” Other assorted bright spots in the transit picture: Greyhound beginning service into Suffolk, the continued success of the Hampton Jitney run to New York, Huntingdon’s taking it upon itself to start a bus service with its HART network. From The Legislature County Legislator Denis Hurle:' Last week’s column was devoted to Point One of the three part “Tax payers’ Bill of Rights” proposed by the County Executive. The first part calls for all layers of government within Suf folk County, including the School Dis tricts, to unite in an effort to reduce real property taxes from the present average percentage in Suffolk of four per cent, to one per cent of market value. Whether that goal is obtainable through County legislation is highly questionable since approximately 2.6 per cent of the four per cent figure is attributable to School District taxes. We, in New York State, have the dis tinction of paying more to educate our children, on a per-capita basis, than any other State in the Union. However, the basic problems are State-wide. Consequently, I doubt if we can an ticipate that local School Districts will, or indeed, could respond to a County and taxpayer directive to cut their budgets sufficiently to permit the real ization of the one per cent tax goal. I wish the situation were otherwise, and maybe it is, but I do not think so. As I indicated last week, I think the portion of Point One of the “Taxpayers Bill of Rights” which seeks to ask the tax payers, at a special referendum, wheth er they want their realty taxes reduc ed from four per cent to one per cent is unsound. I feel this way because (a) the cost of such a referendum would be approxi mately $150,000 and (b) the question answers itself. While I have severe reservations as to portions of Point One, I feel that Point Two is excellent. It seeks to re duce the County real property tax levy by five per cent a year over a period of five years, for a total reduction of 25 per cent. This does not necessarily mean that total County government expenditures will stabilize, or de crease. This is so because the County has The Town Attorney has received an answer from the State Attorney Gen eral’s office, and the Attorney General has ruled that it would be illegal for the Town of East Hampton to have a referendum on the subject of casino gambling. This should satisfy the people who had the impression that the Town Board was gutless because it would not go with a referendum vote until it had an opinion as to whether or not it was legal. The high cost of litigation over law suits being brought by various individ uals and organizations makes it more imperative that -Town government look into subjects, as was done in the many other resources of revenue besides the real property tax levy, in cluding monies from the Federal gov ernment and local sales-tax revenues. Sales-tax revenues have increased tre mendously in recent years, escalating from a figure of $46 million in 1971 to an anticipated $135 million for 1979. By way of comparison, the real prop erty tax levy produced $55 million in 1978. Therefore, it is possible that the decrease in the receipts from the real property tax levy, if the 25 per cent re duction goes into effect, might be off set by a corresponding increase in the sales tax receipts in the years ahead. However, be that as it may, the pur- case of casino gambling, and eliminate the possibility of law suits where there is a question of legality. It is my understanding that over 5,000 signatures have been gathered by various organizations in our Town against casino gambling. These should be looked at and a public hearing held, with the possibility of passing an ordinance in regard to casino gamb ling. I have stated in the past that I will vote the will of the people as a member of the Town Board, but the mandate has to come from the people of our Town. pose of the “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” is to reduce the real property tax. Point Two of the County Executive’s proposal is aimed at doing just that, and therefore, it has my full support. However, again I feel that this proposi tion should not be submitted to the people by way of a referendum because I have absolutely no doubt the over whelming majority of the people in Suffolk County favor the contemplated reduction. In next week’s column I will discuss the third point of the “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights,” to wit, the proposal to place a cap on the property tax levy for Po lice District purposes. I J > U « y U 1>JI U.IVJI.W ..« t n v . ' j n The State Senate State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle Our government cost-cutting confer ence with several hundred policy making officials from all levels of local government, including School Dis tricts, was widely reported, so I will not dwell on the details. [See Page II — Three.] Six workshops to deal with ways to cut governmental costs through coop erative action in the areas of insurance, purchasing, labor management, dupli cation of services, mandates and regu lations and energy and utilities were set in motion. Although it is, of course, too early to predict ultimate success for this effort, this first conference accomplished its goal of focusing attention on the prob lem in a spirit of cooperation. Generat ing that spirit is half the battle, for key officials of some 600 taxing entities can no longer have the luxury of working alone and continue to isolate them selves from the overall situation. Though individual budgets may not seem like a tremendous burden, their overall combined impact has become overwhelming. We are fortunate to have in Suffolk County some of the most competent of ficials in the State and there was every indication at this conference that they are prepared to work together to de velop new ideas and implement sound programs which will compel fiscal re sponsibility. There will be two more such work shop conferences before April 1. In these we will address a number of specific issues. In some areas we hope to see substantial savings. In other areas, the dollar amounts saved may be less significant. The important thing is that we adopt an attitude of total concern for the taxpayer's pocketbook. My role, and that of other Suffolk Leg islators, will be to prepare the legis lation necessary to support innovative and creative ideas generated through these conferences. Report From Albany Assemblyman John L. Behan The 1979 Legislature session offic ially got under way in Albany earlier this month with many new faces on both sides of the Assembly aisle. Of the 64 Republicans and 86 Democrats, 26 will be serving their freshman terms in the Assembly. The new Legislators represent over one-sixth of the total 150-member body, which means that we can expect many new ideas and pro posed solutions to legislative issues. The start of the 1979 session also saw changes in the top Assembly lead ership posts. Republicans chose James L. Emery of Geneseo to succeed Perry Duryea as Minority Leader, while the Democrats elected Stanley Fink of Brooklyn to replace Stanley Steingut as Speaker. Gordon Burrows of Yonk ers will serve as Deputy Republican Leader, and the Majority Leader’s post will be held by Daniel Walsh of Franklinville. Legislators normally assemble in Al bany three or four days out of every week for committee sessions, floor de bates, and meetings with officials from State departments and agencies. The remainder of the time is usually spent in the home District handling constit uent inquiries and discussing commun ity affairs with local citizens. I espec ially look forward to working with the residents of the East End this year on the concerns of our area. Committee assignments were made recently by Republican Leader Emery, and I am fortunate to have received those committees which I initially re quested. This year I’ll be serving on the Assembly Environmental Con servation, Local Government, and Real Property Taxation Committees — committees which will allow me to foc us on the concerns we all share on east ern Long Island. In the coming weeks I’ll be discus sing some of the important issues be ing considered by the Legislature and also legislation I’ve introduced which should be of interest to the residents of the First Assembly District. Frequently scheduled appearances throughout the District will be supple mented by my district office in Mon tauk and my legislative office in Al bany. I can be reached anytime at my office in The Colonial Building on The Plaza, Montauk, or my Albany office in Room 523, Legislative Office Building, Albany.