Government news across the East End

Government Briefs

Union, Bellone Clash

The union representing Suffolk County employees charged on the eve of Labor Day that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has been dragging his feet negotiating a new contract.

The Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees has been working without a contract since December 2016. A newly-forged agreement has run afoul of the amount unions should contribute toward employee health care. Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees President Daniel Levler said the nearly 6000 employees in the union are paid an average annual salary of $60,000 and cannot afford an increase in health benefit costs.

Meanwhile he said, non-union “appointees” now make an average salary of more than $100,000, yet would be exempt from the health care contribution.

A new contract has been stalled while the county executive negotiates for $30 million in health care savings from unions. “Maybe highly paid political appointees can afford to pay more for health care, but our nearly 6000 working class members cannot,” Levler said.

New Algal Blooms Found

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has confirmed the emergence of new cyanobacteria blooms, more commonly known as blue–green algae, in South Merritts Pond in Riverhead and Wickapogue Pond, Coopers Neck Pond, and Little Fresh Pond in Southampton, among other water bodies further Upisland.

Currently, cyanobacteria blooms are still present at Lake Agawam and Sagg Pond in Southampton, Mill Pond in Water Mill, Georgica Pond in East Hampton, and Artist Lake in Middle Island.

Due to these findings, health officials ask residents not to use or swim or wade in these waters and to keep their pets and children away from the area.

To report a suspected blue-green algae bloom that is in a body of water that does not contain a Suffolk County permitted bathing beach, contact the Division of Water at New York State DEC at 518-402-8179 or via email at habsinfo@dec.ny.gov.

Zeldin On Board

Congressman Lee Zeldin is on board with the John McCain Defense Authorization Act, a spokeswoman said Monday, September 3.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, at a meeting with local officials at Gabreski Airport three days earlier (full story also in The Independent), told them he had gotten the U.S. Air Force to agree to reimburse county and state officials for costs expended on the drinking water contamination in Westhampton but that Congress still needed to sign off.

“The congressman supports this amendment and, furthermore, has voted for House-passed legislation that has provided even higher amounts for PFOS cleanup than in the past. For example, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, included $60 million for environmental remediation and PFOS cleanup,” said Katie Vincentz.

RM

rmurphy@indyeastend.com