Proposed 0.125 percent sales tax increase would fund water act

Lawmakers, environmental, labor leaders endorse legislation


On Feb. 5, Suffolk County executive Ed Romaine and Suffolk County Legislature presiding officer Kevin McCaffrey, joined by environmental and labor leaders, announced what Romaine categorized as “an historic deal that will transform water protection in Suffolk County and pave the way for clean water for future generations.”

According to proponents of the bill, which has been introduced in Albany and which voters will decide upon in November 2024, the proposed sales tax increase of an 0.125 percent  penny, would establish a reliable revenue source to “execute the county’s $4 billion 50-year Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan, which is aimed at reversing the decades-long issue of nitrogen pollution,” according to the Suffolk AME.

“The I/A systems will remove other nitrogen and other contaminants before they taint drinking water. Sewage infrastructure allows more homes to be connected to sewage treatment facilities, eliminating the use of outdated cesspools,” according to a statement from the county executive’s office.

“Today we begin rewriting the environmental history of this great county,” said Romaine.

“Only through the work of my colleagues in the legislature and the leadership of assemblyman Thiele and Sen. Monica Martinez could this have been accomplished,” said McCaffrey. “Clean water is a bipartisan issue, one that cannot be affected by politics, and we came together to provide a better environment for this and future generations.”

“I’m proud to take a significant step in safeguarding our region’s vital water resources by sponsoring the Suffolk County Water Restoration Act,” said New York State Sen. Monica Martinez. “The urgency to restore and protect clean water is a cause that unites Long Islanders. As an island, our environment, quality of life, and economy are intricately linked.”

Kevin McDonald, policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy in New York, said the organization was “thrilled that a landmark agreement has been reached to restore clean water to Suffolk County. Clean water is essential for public health, recreation, and quality of life. The Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act will enable us to modernize wastewater infrastructure and repair local bays and harbors.”

“Suffolk County’s future is dependent upon our ability to successfully manage our wastewater. We know how to do it, but we need the funding! Establishing a reliable funding mechanism is imperative to replace antiquated septic and cesspool systems as well as aging sewer infrastructure,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“For too long, our region has been burdened by outdated systems,” said Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors Association (LICA). “This new deal will infuse $8 to $12 billion into regional economy over the next three decades and is a critical step in modernizing our infrastructure and ensuring our residents have access to clean drinking water.”

Suffolk AME said they were “proud to stand alongside our fellow labor leaders, community leaders, Suffolk County legislators, and county executive Ed Romaine at yesterday’s press conference to announce a new bipartisan plan that would improve the quality of the county’s drinking water.”

“As the union representing the dedicated municipal employees of our county, we believe that these transformative investments in water infrastructure will have a lasting and positive impact on Suffolk County and our workforce, fostering a healthier and more prosperous future for all who call this beautiful region home.

Investing in water quality infrastructure means creating or expanding union jobs that contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of our county. Remember, it is our dedicated Suffolk AME members who will work to operate and maintain the sewer infrastructure,” said a representative for the AME. 


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