While Nassau County tables Thomas R. Suozzi's call for mass layoffs, Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine's red-light camera efforts could help the county financially. The governor now seems likely to push the effort into state law, facilitating what some have projected to be $12 million in Nassau County revenue.
Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi started this month with a severe public address. He told county unions that because of the state of the economy and its negative effects on Nassau County tax revenue, a hole in the budget would have to either be addressed by major layoffs or an across-the-board pay cut. This week, Mr. Suozzi requested that the layoffs be tabled so that discussion and negotiation could go on. The Nassau County Legislature granted his extension. They will now formally consider the layoffs at a February 23 meeting.
Mr. Suozzi said, "I asked the union leaders to speak to their members and pursue solutions and then to come talk to me. They have done so and I am thereby requesting the legislature to reschedule consideration of the layoffs."
While layoffs are postponed, the county has released memos giving this Friday as the deadline for all park commissioners to submit a plan for the closing of their parks with the exception of six major sites. They have also enumerated the abolishment of positions ranging across-the-board from police officers to groundskeeper to administration.
Outside of budget cuts, a possible revenue source on the table is a red-light camera system. Nassau County has approached New York State on this issue and awaits some progress. Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine actually co-sponsored a bill that would allow for red-light cameras in Nassau County at dangerous intersections. The idea was to save lives, but ticket revenue from such an effort would also be viewed as a major plus for the county.
Assemblyman Lavine's bill was making headway in 2008 until Assemblyman David Gantt of Rochester created a competing bill. Mr. Lavine then submitted a bill that included other counties such as Yonkers, Buffalo and Suffolk. This did serve to create more support, but the session ended before the bill could be passed.
At this point, Mr. Lavine is more hopeful for the red-light effort because the governor is actually likely to include it in his own budget.
Mr. Lavine told the Record Pilot, "This is an issue we discussed as recently as yesterday in the Democratic conference. I made it very clear that this is something that we wanted. I would say there is a very good chance that this will be part of the governor's budget bill, which would then make it a law in New York State."
He said rough estimates had projected something in the area of $12 million-a-year in revenue for Nassau County as a result of the lights.
"The county does have to procure a vendor who can install and get them running, which does cost money," Mr. Lavine added. "But they usually take a percentage of revenue earned by the tickets."
Statistics have proven that red-light cameras have reduced accidents in New York City and other places where they are currently in use. Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey said that they are almost as good as having a squad car parked at an intersection. People become quite cautious at all intersections when they could end up on film.
Mr. Lavine pointed out that three of the most deadly roads in New York State are actually reported to be in Nassau County; Hempstead Turnpike, Old Country Road and Sunrise Highway.