USA

Suffolk Police face $20M cut amid fiscal crisis, county executive says

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone plans to slash police spending by $20 million to deal with a fiscal crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bellone, who will unveil his grim plan later Friday, told The Post he’s canceling two police recruitment classes for 200 police officers to save $9 million and suspending the class for 40 deputy sheriffs, to trim another $1.5 million.

The proposal also axes $1 million from the police department’s crime scene section.

Moreover, the plan eliminates $1 million in funding for the popular school officer resources program, where Suffolk cops go into the schools to talk to students.

The proposal also slashes $5 million in county aid to five independently run East End town police departments.

He’s freezing police promotions to save another $1 million.

The bitter medicine comes as Suffolk has become a go-to destination for wealthy New York City residents seeking refuge from the pandemic, particularly decamping in the Hamptons and other East End other locales beyond the summer.

While announcing the cuts, Bellone, a moderate Democrat, appealed to President Trump to help preserve the quality of life in Suffolk and other suburbs by getting the Republican-led Senate to agree to a COVID-19 relief package that would help preserve police and health services provided by local governments.

He pointed out that Trump knows Suffolk well and has attended fundraisers in the Hamptons.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has a home in Suffolk, he noted.

“We’re one of the safest suburban counties in the country. We want to keep it that way,” Bellone said.

A recent financial report estimated that Suffolk County faces a projected $1.5 billion shortfall over the next three years because of a shrinking economy and plummeting tax revenues caused by the pandemic.

Suffolk’s total budget is $3.2 billion, which includes state and federal funds. The police budget is $530 million.

Bellone said deeper and more painful cuts are in the works if Washington doesn’t deliver relief.

“This is the first in a series of announcements we’ll have to make. There will be more cuts,” he said.

Earlier this year, Bellone reached an agreement with Suffolk’s public employee unions to suspend longevity pay increases for workers for six months, to save $30 million.

He said negotiations are ongoing with union leaders about further cuts and did not rule out layoffs.

The Suffolk government employs 9,200 employees, including about 2,000 in the police department.

Bellone and the Suffolk Legislature are expected to hammer out a budget deal in November for the 2021 fiscal year.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has threatened thousands of layoffs if D.C. doesn’t deliver a bailout package or Albany rebuffs his request for authorization to borrow up to $5 billion to get through the pandemic-fueled fiscal crisis.

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