Public hearing held on plan to authorize a referendum to vote on tax increase to fund clean water initiative
Dozens of Suffolk County residents rallied Wednesday ahead of a public hearing regarding a plan that would lead to higher taxes but also cleaner water.
Environmental groups, labor organizations and some local elected officials joined residents to push for a public vote on water, septic and sewer issues in Riverhead.
Legislators are considering two proposals. One is to create a countywide sewer district and the other is to authorize a referendum to vote on whether to increase sales tax by .125% to fund clean water initiative.
Those who attended the rally say the upgrades are needed to ensure clean drinking water for Suffolk County residents and the tax increase would amount to only an eighth of a penny more.
"This plan would only cost residents 62 cents every time they spend $500," says Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "It's pennies over the year, for a large payback, which is clean drinking water and clean beaches and bays."
A public hearing was then held for residents to speak on both issues.
Suffolk County residents said they want clean water and improved sewer and septic systems, but also want to ensure that their tax dollars are not being wasted.
"One of the things I'm concerned about is the history of Suffolk County running a sewer district is abysmal," one woman said during the meeting.
County legislators voted to recess the issue on the countywide sewer district. It will be up for discussion again at the next meeting of the Legislature on July 25.
As of 10 p.m., public comments were still being heard about the referendum to vote on the tax increase. Suffolk legislators were expected to make a decision late Wednesday.