Lawsuit: Suffolk misused funds earmarked for water protection

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit again Suffolk County today, claiming the country illegally misused funds.

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit again Suffolk County today, claiming the country illegally misused funds. (3/10/14)

HAUPPAUGE - Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Suffolk County, claiming the county illegally misused funds to balance its budget at the expense of the local drinking water.

The suit says the county took $33 million in funds from an environmental sales tax that were earmarked for water protection, and instead used the money to plug the county's budget deficit. Critics say the move was illegal.

County officials argue that the fund transfer makes sense. "Right now for the taxpayers of Suffolk County, we have a budget gap," says Deputy County Executive Justin Meyers. "And we can close that gap in the cheapest, most effective way that really has no consequences to it, by borrowing this money and paying it back before it's used."

Today, County Executive Steve Bellone met with environmentalists on the issue. Dick Amper, of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, says Bellone promised the diverted money will be paid back starting in 2017.

"I think they know that they have to restore the funds and make a commitment to the public that it can't happen again," Amper said.

Environmental groups also filed suit in 2011 when the county's previous administration diverted money from an environmental fund. That suit is still pending, but Bellone administration officials say the $20 million Suffolk diverted from the environmental fund under former County Executive Steve Levy will be paid back along with the current transfer.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Top 5 Must See

Dr. Melinda Edwards taught and inspired the students 1 Former students surprise Baldwin H.S. chorus teacher
Demonstrators sit on the ground along Pennsylvania Ave. 2 Thousands march across US to protest Trump climate policies
Tens of thousands of Long Island students are 3 Thousands of students to opt out of state testing
Trump's road to the White House, paved in 4 Trump's 100-days vows: Hits, misses, unfinished business
According to police, Christopher Vorisek, of Farmingville was 5 Man arrested for DWI after fatal motorcycle crash in Selden

advertisement | advertise on News 12

More News

What's in the Water. Series at a Glance: What's in the Water

Long Island's drinking water is under siege from a variety of chemicals and toxins we

A large number of Long Islanders wonder if What's in the Water: Cancer on the block

Long Island's public water suppliers filter groundwater water through pumps to remove all regulated contaminants

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.