Please join me for some beer, some wings, some great live music by the Suburban Brothers Band (with yours truly...
Please join me for some beer, some wings, some great live music by the Suburban Brothers Band (with yours truly...
The Republican Caucus of the Suffolk County Legislature announced the formation of two task forces, one on Budget & Taxation,...
The Suffolk County Legislature took a step today towards...
"I continue to be incredibly humbled by the support from 10th District residents of all walks of life and all...
The Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau will offer a two-night course on boating safety at the Suffolk County Police...
VOTE NOVEMBER 5, 2013 Making Suffolk County more business-friendly...Enabling job creation and economic growth. • Advocated for on-line business...
In a press release dated August 6, 2013, the New York League of Conservation Voters called Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East...
The Islip North Community Watch Group, led by Joan Smith and Glen Carballo, paid tribute to Legislator Tom Cilmi recently. ...
Legislator Tom Cilmi has filed the following official statement for the record and comments on the LIRR Environmental Assessment of...
Already familiar with Wing Fling and want to reserve your tickets? Click HERE and make your contribution in advance...
“No one should be put on hold when calling 9-1-1,” said Legislator Tom Cilmi upon passage of his bill to...
Calling it a "necessary reform" Legislator Tom Cilmi announced the passage of legislation he sponsored which requires that the Legislature...
In the interest of transparency and gratitude, the following is a list of endorsements to date for my 2013 re-election...
On May 23, 2013 Legislator Tom Cilmi joined Islandia Mayor Allan Dorman, several other elected officials, veterans, and members of...
Noting that many County departments are short staffed due to Suffolk's budgetary challenges, Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) says that...
Legislator Tom Cilmi filed legislation (IR 1307-2013) which would bring Suffolk County's 4% Cap law into compliance with New...
10th District Legislator Tom Cilmi says the law requiring Legislative waivers when hiring a non-Suffolk resident need to be tightened. ...
Great event honoring the 10th District's finest community leaders. George Schramm, President, Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization Lou Pepe, Founder, Just for Kicks;...
Yesterday, the Suffolk County Legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved a bill authorizing the County Comptroller to issue nearly...
1005. …To reduce the printing costs associated with the...
Commentary on Governor Cuomo's 2013 State of the State Address in New York, from Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi. (Originally...
The Empire Center for New York State Policy issued a report today calling...
Please join me on January 17, 2013 from 6pm to 8pm at Islip's newest restaurant, Medley's (526 Main Street, Islip),...
According to a Long Island Index survey, more than half of Long Islanders have difficulty paying their rent or...
Suffolk Legislator Tom Cilmi joined former County Executive Pat Halpin for another edition of Meet the Leaders, The show will...
Legislator Tom Cilmi sponsored a bill to designate the second week in February "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week." The bill...
Democrats have ramped up a clever strategy of trying to foist blame on Republicans for the country’s fiscal woes. It’s...
At a Legislative meeting on December 3, 2012, Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) was the lone 'no' vote on legislation...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi was the Master of Ceremonies at the annual Islip Chamber of Commerce Holiday Parade once...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi stopped by the Islandia Tree Lighting held on December 1st at Village Hall to help...
(Saturday, November 10, 2012) - Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) stopped by the set of Fox & Friends to discuss...
Legislator Tom Cilmi, a former small business owner and known advocate for small business in the Suffolk County Legislature, saw...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi appeared on a September 2012 edition of Fox & Friends Weekend to talk about "impact...
Every year I join a great many volunteers as we set up and run the East Islip Soccer Club’s Annual...
“This bill would be a step in the right direction of growing our economy and demonstrating that Long Island is...
The Suffolk County Legislature met Thursday, September 13, 2012 with a full plate. On tap was the proposed sale of...
by John CallegariPublished: August 3, 2012 If Tom Cilmi has his way, Long Island businesses will be able to...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi filed a series of three bills aimed at promoting budget transparency and encouraging public input...
Legislator Tom Cilmi said today that any meaningful discussion of Suffolk County's budget must start with credibility. "We are making...
Although new district lines won’t take effect until January 2014, Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi is not wasting any time...
In a letter to Deputy County Executive Ben Zwirn, Legislator Tom Cilmi pointed out several questions which have not yet...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi "loves kids and loves to read," he told each of the classes he read to...
Legislator Tom Cilmi attended a press conference with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislators Hahn and...
Today at a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature’s Government Operations Committee, Suffolk’s new Deputy County Executive for...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi is claiming another victory in his fight against the out of county tuition...
In an article in the Long Island...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi today (Feb. 3, 2012) issued a statement applauding Acting Police Commissioner Edward Webber for taking...
Calling the justice system “clearly broken” in the aftermath of the killing of New York City Police Officer Peter Figoski...
Legislator Tom Cilmi today was one of three legislators voting to sustain the County Executive's veto of a budget amendment...
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi, in his first bid for reelection, scored a decisive victory on Tuesday, November 8, 2011...
Legislator Tom Cilmi announced the passage of his bill prohibitng Suffolk's Comptroller, Joseph Sawicki, from reimbursing F.I.T. for more than...
Today we remember one of the most tragic days in American history. I was at the Oconee Diner having breakfast...
Legislator Tom Cilmi filed a bill today that directs the County Comptroller not to pay the Fashion Institute of Technology...
As I begin my second campaign for the County Legislature, we are facing historic challenges. Unemployment is at record levels;...
Legislator Tom Cilmi is not giving up his fight to save Suffolk taxpayers more than $3 million...money which goes to...
Legislator Tom Cilmi continues to be one of our most outspoken leaders in dealing with underage drinking, drinking and driving,...
Cilmi Hails Strengthening of Social Host Law. Story here. Cilmi calls budget reform vote "unfortunate." Story here. Legislator Tom Cilmi...
Please join me for some beer, some wings, some great live music by the Suburban Brothers Band (with yours truly sitting in every so often), and a wing-eating contest for charity.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Lily Flanagan's, 528 Main Street, Islip, New York
Tickets are just $35 pp. Sponsorships available. Details on the invitation shown.
Mail your donation to: Friends of Tom Cilmi, PO Box 254, Islip, NY 11751
Pay by credit card: Just click THIS LINK and make your donation. You will receive an email confirming your RSVP along with the level of sponsorship you selected. Thanks for your support!
The Republican Caucus of the Suffolk County Legislature announced the formation of two task forces, one on Budget & Taxation, to be chaired by Legislator Tom Barraga of West Islip, and one on Mental Health & Substance Abuse, to be chaired by Legislator Tom Cilmi of Bay Shore.
Calling the announcement a "reflection of Republican priorities for 2014," Cilmi said he's looking forward to leading efforts to address these critically important issues.
Cilmi says the issues of drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health go hand in hand. "There is a very high comorbidity of substance abuse and mental illness. We often find mental illness in those who abuse drugs and alcohol."
"The goals of the Task Force are simple," said Cilmi, "...to keep the issue continually in the public eye, take a critical look at government spending as it relates to these issues, and advocate for policy/funding changes as we deem appropriate."
Suffolk County spends more than $50 million annually on related programs and New York State spends close to $5 billion. Cilmi said, "It seems like we're spending an awful lot of money, yet the problems keep getting worse. Elected officials should be asking why."
Freshman Legislator Kevin McCaffrey of Lindenhurst, the Task Force vice chair, said "Substance abuse has moved into the forefront of issues in our communities. Everyone knows a family whose lives are changed forever by the the scourge of substance abuse. As government officials we must commit to doing everything we can to make sure we stop this epidemic."
Cilmi said the first step will be to carefully review the work of an earlier panel which issued a report in December 2010 describing some 48 proposals to address the issue. "A lot of effort went into....We certainly don't want to be duplicative. It's been more than three years, we want to see how far we've come in addressing those concerns." But, Cilmi said, the Task Force's work will not be limited to that. "The world changes and so has substance abuse. There may be some things we need to do differently. I was asked if this is reinventing the wheel, given the amount of work that's already been done on the issue. My response is, if the wheel isn't working, then maybe it should be reinvented...certainly there are things we can do to make it work better."
The Task Force will eventually hold public meetings for the purpose of making presentations and hearing from interested parties. Dates to be announced.
Cilmi said, "I can remember as a child going around from store to store with my mom putting up 'Say No to Drugs' signs. This is a problem that effects everyone. Whether you personally know a drug abuser or not, billions of tax dollars, through treatment and prevention programs, through law enforcement, etc. are being spent on these issues. Our court system and jails are consumed by the drug trade. Children are dying. Crime in our neighborhoods is increasing, largely fueled by the drug trade. This is a critical issue and we intend to do our part to help address it."
The Suffolk County Legislature took a step today towards making Suffolk County more business-friendly for electrical contractors which, supporters say, will translate to lower costs for consumers.
A bill sponsored by Legislator Tom Cilmi and passed by the Legislature (HR-1) asks New York State to allow Suffolk County to be the sole licensing authority for master electricians throughout the County. In Nassau County, electricians are required to hold more than 27 different licenses in order to work in the variety of towns, cities and villages within the County.. Not only is there a cost associated with each license, but there are additional insurance costs as well.
Presently in Suffolk County only two municipalities, in addition to Suffolk County, require separate licenses or registrations. Cilmi says his bill will prevent the proliferation of unnecessary, onerous fees and registrations throughout the County by stopping the spread of unnecessary bureaucracy.
Cilmi worked with State Senator Lee Zeldin to craft Senate bill S.5132, which is mirrored in the Assembly by A.7298. The State Legislature requires a home rule message from the County in order to act.
Legislator Cilmi said, “This is common sense, good government, good-for-business legislation which is also good for the consumer. All master electricians are licensed in Suffolk County. There is absolutely no reason to add extra layers of bureaucracy at the town and village levels which increase costs for consumers and taxpayers, and provide a false sense of additional security.”
Senator Lee Zeldin said, “This legislation will protect electricians and consumers against the unnecessarily complex structure of electrical licensing that currently exists. It’s another way we are empowering our localities and working to cut red tape to give our area businesses the chance to succeed. It’s a win for the electricians’ trade and a win for consumers.”
Charlie Gardner, Government Affairs Director of the National Electrical Contractor’s Association, Long Island Chapter, who worked with Cilmi and Zeldin on the legislation, called it a “home run.” He said, “Electrical contractors struggle every day to manage their businesses. Most don’t have administrative staff to keep track of dozens of required license renewals every year. Multiple licenses do nothing to protect the consumer and simply increase costs and make it more difficult for contractors to operate. Our members are thrilled to have played a role in getting this done in Suffolk County.”
"I continue to be incredibly humbled by the support from 10th District residents of all walks of life and all political parties. I will continue to be your outspoken voice in County government and on State and national issues. Thank you for your trust and your votes. I take the significance of neither for granted.
Please know that you can feel free to call my office and ask for me personally at any time and I will do my best to help no matter the issue."
The Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau will offer a two-night course on boating safety at the Suffolk County Police Academy located on the Brentwood Campus of Suffolk County Community College.
Courses will fill up quickly so call the Marine Bureau ASAP at (631) 854-8382 to register.
Course is free to all ages*.
*Minimum age: 10 years
*A $10 fee to NYS will be charged to those over 18 for your permanent certification card
All materials will be provided by New York State
Dates: (you must attend both sessions)
Mon 1/13/14 and Wed 1/15/14 6:00pm – 10:00 pm
Mon 2/3/14 and Wed 2/5/14 6:00pm – 10:00 pm
Mon 3/10/14 and Wed 3/12/14 6:00pm – 10:00 pm
Tues 4/8/14 and Thurs 4/10/14 6:00pm – 10:00 pm
The Empire Center for New York State Policy issued a report today calling for local governments to “adopt long-term financial planning as a core element of their budget practices.”
The report, entitled “Taking a longer view of our local budgets”, comes on the heels of another report issued by NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli citing a variety of fiscal challenges facing local governments, not the least of which is a loss of federal and state aid.
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi has proposed Introductory Resolution 1947-2012, A Charter Law to Establish Multi-Year Budget Plan which would require the County Executive to submit a three year plan along with his operating budget proposal for the following year, along with revenue and expense projections. Cilmi says the time is right to adopt his bill.
“The New York State Comptroller and the Government Financial Officers Association and now The Empire Center have all recommended that local governments adopt long-term plans. Given the projected growth in expenses, it only makes sense that we plan ahead,” Cilmi said.
The Legislature’s Budget Review Office, in their Statement of Fiscal Impact, said, “There could be considerable benefit in terms of identifying how the County plans to more explicitly address its long-term fiscal problems.” The office has been critical of the use of one-shot revenue sources in the past several years which, they say, have created a structural imbalance in the County’s budget.
"Working with the County Executive, the Legislature has taken strides to reduce short-term fiscal difficulties, but we are far from out of the woods," said Cilmi. "Long-term budgeting is essential to the long-term fiscal health of Suffolk County."
According to a Long Island Index survey, more than half of Long Islanders have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage and nearly half are either somewhat or very likely to leave Long Island in the next five years.
Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) isn’t surprised. “Sometimes reality whispers in your ear and other times it screams at you. This is one of those times,” said Cilmi.
Cilmi said that while the cost of living on Long Island has always been relatively high, the availability of high paying jobs and a high quality of life added enough value to make this a very desirable place to live. But, he says, all that’s changing.
“Our quality of life is deteriorating. Governments can no longer afford to provide the level of services that folks are used to. Crime is on the rise, at least from an anecdotal point of view. Foreclosed and abandoned homes in almost every community depress neighboring home values, look unattractive and can invite unwanted behavior,” said Cilmi. “At the same time, we just don’t have the high paying jobs we used to have. There are some, and there are efforts to turn that around. But will it be too little too late? The retail sector cannot provide the sustenance we need and without higher paying jobs, even the retail sector can’t survive.”
Cilmi said this should be a call to action to every elected official on Long island. “We desperately need education funding reform, if not consolidation, to reduce our school property tax burden. We need regulatory and bureaucratic reform to make it easier for business to do business. And we need to deal with the high cost of energy with an urgency that heretofore we have not seen. These are the challenges of our time. As Washington debates the “fiscal cliff,” we’re at a cliff of our own right here on Long Island.”
Suffolk Legislator Tom Cilmi joined former County Executive Pat Halpin for another edition of Meet the Leaders, The show will air through January on Cablevision's Channel 118.
In the interview, Cilmi discusses local response to superstorm Sandy from the community and government as well as LIPA's difficulties. He talks about proposed bans on certain types of thermal sales receipt paper and on energy drinks, then on the fiscal cliff and his efforts to improve government transparency.
Legislator Tom Cilmi sponsored a bill to designate the second week in February "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week." The bill passed on a 15-0-0-2 vote on December 18, 2012 with two legislators not present.
"Congenital heart defects effect approximately 40,000 babies every year," said Cilmi. "Hopefully this will help bring some awareness."
Democrats have ramped up a clever strategy of trying to foist blame on Republicans for the country’s fiscal woes. It’s an interesting sleight of hand.
The policies pursued, and not pursued, by the Obama administration in his first term led to annual trillion dollar deficits ballooning the national debt to more than $16 trillion and another request to increase the debt limit is on the table.
With $16 trillion in debt, an anemic economy and no credible plan to transform annual deficits into annual surpluses, it’s likely the national debt will continue to increase. Democrats and Republicans are talking about the impending “fiscal cliff” we will fall off if we don’t come to agreement on spending cuts and tax increases.
Here’s a news flash. We are already falling and falling fast. Stunning increases in spending as a result of entitlements and other government programs coupled with anti-growth economic and jobs policies, sent us off that cliff years ago. What we should be looking for is something to grasp onto as we plummet towards the ground.
Instead, Obama and the Democrats are more than happy to suggest the cliff is still in front of us and it’s up to the Republicans to compromise. If not, they say, the blame will rest on the GOP.
It’s a deft political strategy and one far too many of us are willing to buy. The sad reality, however, is that the tax increases they’re talking about, assuming all other things equal, won’t really help, especially not without significant spending cuts. In fact, they will hurt, potentially stifling economic growth even further and the deficit will continue, the debt will grow, we will continue to fall and it’s only a matter of time until we hit the ground.
At a Legislative meeting on December 3, 2012, Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) was the lone 'no' vote on legislation to ban the use of thermal sales receipts which use a chemical called BPA (bisphenol A). The measure passed 16-1.
BPA is commonly used in thermal sales receipts such as those typically used in ATM machines, gas pumps and cash registers. It is also used in epoxy, soda and food cans, dental fillings, water coolers, eyeglasses, DVDs, sporting equipment, and a host of other products commonly available. While the ban only addresses sales receipts, a similar measure enacted by the County Legislature previously banned the chemical's use in baby bottles. In 2010, the World Health Organization found no reason for any such measures and in 2012, the FDA issued a statement in banning the use of BPA nationally in baby bottles which sited "public sentiment" and not health concerns for its action.
The following is an excerpt from Cilmi's statement:
There is no doubt that a YES vote on this would be the politically correct vote. We're all concerned about health issues. But is it the right vote? To answer that question, we must ask ourselves, 'what else are we prepared to ban?'
There are hundreds of products and activities which we know beyond a shadow of a doubt are dangerous. Should we ban them all? There are potentially thousands more that MIGHT be dangerous. Shall we start banning them? Where do we end up if we continue down this road?
Most of us woke up this morning, showered with processed shampoos and soaps, used deodorant, sprayed on perfume or cologne with little thought of the potential health impacts from those products. Maybe you've eaten eggs filled with cholesterol, or potatoes and bacon cooked in grease. Maybe you ate some fruit which was no doubt sprayed with pesticides.
What would come of our way of life if we sought to ban everything that was harmful or, as in this case, potentially harmful? And if we ban things that are potentially harmful, what does that say to folks who have been impacted by the things that are known to be harmful but that have been spared the heavy hand of regulation?
We must acknowledge there are risks in life. Some we choose to accept; others we don't. But those are our choices. If you don't want a receipt, don't take one. If you want your employers to be aware of potential dangers in the work environment, tell them. If they fail to act, find another job. But let's not continue down this slippery slope we're on.
During the debate, one Legislator suggested it would be nice to eliminate paper receipts altogether, to which Cilmi said, "Did you know there are an estimated 700,000 workers in paper related industries? There may not be a BPA factory here in Suffolk County, but there is somewhere. We had better be thinking about the employees at that plant when we consider legislation like this."
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi was the Master of Ceremonies at the annual Islip Chamber of Commerce Holiday Parade once again this year, a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly. He said, “It’s a great joy to do this each year. I love the holidays and to see everyone out and about and all the community groups participating, especially the kids, it’s just really special.”
Over 40 organizations took part in the festivities, from local high school marching bands, boy scouts and girl scouts, sport teams, historical societies, dancers, twirlers, civic groups, etc., all dressed in their holiday best. As usual, the Islip Fire Department anchored the parade with Santa Claus in tow. The festivities concluded with an invocation by Reverend Doug Madlon of the Islip Methodist Church.
Cilmi said this year’s parade was particularly poignant in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. “So many of these groups participating today pitched in to help others after Sandy. We live in a truly wonderful community.”
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi stopped by the Islandia Tree Lighting held on December 1st at Village Hall to help kick off the holiday season with Mayor Allan Dorman.
(Saturday, November 10, 2012) - Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) stopped by the set of Fox & Friends to discuss the Long Island Power Authority Response to "Superstorm" Sandy. Cilmi said that for those customers still out, the number restored "really doesn't make a difference."
Cilmi blamed "poor planning and poor decision making" at LIPA and suggested a review of the LIPA structure.
The video can be seen here: Cilmi speaks about LIPA response to Sandy
Legislator Tom Cilmi, a former small business owner and known advocate for small business in the Suffolk County Legislature, saw red when he heard of a budget proposal which would double Health Department tank fees for gas stations.
"I instructed our budget review office to craft a bill that would eliminate the increase and told them I didn't care if the offset came directly out of Executive staff," Cilmi said. "I was livid. These guys had just endured earlier in the year substantial fee increases at the hands of our Consumer Affairs Department. We just can't continue to use small business owners as if they are the Federal Reserve."
During debate, Fred Pollert, the County's Budget Director, said that the average $1,000 annual increase was insignificant to business owners. "Do you own a gas station?" Cilmi scolded. "Are you going to subsidize this increase? One thousand dollars is not 'diminimus' to small business owners, or residents, or anyone!"
Cilmi's bill passed giving reprieve to fee-weary station owners, but after long lines at gas stations as a result of power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, further attempts at costly regulatory burdens may not be far around the corner. Nassau County has proposed that all gas station owners should have backup generators which could cost as much as $20,000.
Every year I join a great many volunteers as we set up and run the East Islip Soccer Club’s Annual Fall Classic Soccer Tournament. This year was the event’s 30th anniversary. The event is held every Columbus Day weekend and gives kids ages five through sixteen the opportunity to compete against other children from all over Long Island. Anytime you have an event such as this with thousands of children, there are bound to be many special moments.
My job on Saturday, driving folks from one side of the park to the other in golf carts..people who maybe have a lot of gear, are physically challenged, late to their grandchild’s game, or maybe tired from a long day.
My job on Sunday, all day on stage with a microphone in my hand announcing winners…who came in first, who came in second, who won the “hardest shot” contest. The pace is chaotic at times; at other times I feel like a standup comedian trying to entertain a couple dozen young kids as they await the results of their tournament bracket. What a lesson in improv.!
During my announcements at this year’s tournament, up stepped a fellow with his young son who had played all weekend but whose team had not won anything. The boy of six or seven years old was upset that his name wasn’t called over the loudspeaker. The father asked if there was some way I could publicly recognize his son and I of course obliged. I brought the boy up on stage and said, “Attention everyone…this is my good friend (name extracted) who is one of our players and I just wanted to introduce him to you.”
I felt good about this seemingly inconsequential moment. The dad thanked me and he and his son walked off. A few days later I received a letter thanking me for what I did. He said that by this small gesture, I had made a huge difference in this young boy’s day. “It’s all he could talk about,” he said. The first thing the boy said when he walked off the stage was, “He called me his good friend.”
In reading the letter, a tear came to my eye. At the time I hadn’t thought about how important that small gesture was to this young child. I’d be willing to bet that his father had no idea how important his letter would be to me. To me, the letter had the same effect as my announcement had on his child. The impact of these good deeds was truly magical.
My point is, whether by words or by action, each of us has the ability to create a little magic in another’s life, just as I did for this child, and just as his father did for me. During this holiday season, and always…be the magic.
“This bill would be a step in the right direction of growing our economy and demonstrating that Long Island is a place open for business.” So says a letter from the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group. The letter dated August 31, 2012 and addressed to the Suffolk County Legislature also said, “The Long Island Association supports…Legislator Tom Cilmi’s legislation, IR1802-2012, which will help create jobs, promote economic development, and foster an improved business climate on Long Island.”
Cilmi, a former small business owner, Chamber of Commerce president and professed supporter of small business, introduced the legislation in response to complaints from business owners in Suffolk who, Cilmi says, are being forced to pay for unnecessary public infrastructure improvements. “It’s bad enough,” Cilmi said, “that government holds business permit applicants hostage in exchange for excessive improvements to their own properties. To then require them to spend tens of thousands of dollars on unwarranted road improvements as well…it’s no wonder our economy isn’t growing.”
The legislation calls for an end to “impact fees” and the elimination of language in current law which permits the County to require prospective business owners to pay for such road improvements as may be deemed necessary. It would not apply to more significant mitigation measures as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act usually in the case of large scale developments.
“Government often is very cavalier, sometimes even arrogant, in how we treat business owners,” said Cilmi. “There is a certain ignorance which comes from never having had the challenge of running a small business…having to fight for every dime, risking your life savings, dealing with government regulations, making payroll. I always say, the best way for government to create jobs is to stop preventing them. At a time when economic growth is anemic at best and when prolonged unemployment is high, there is no time like the present to send a strong message to business that we’re going to do all we can to support your success, not snuff it out before it begins.”
The Suffolk County Legislature met Thursday, September 13, 2012 with a full plate. On tap was the proposed sale of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility as well as the sale of 220 acres of County-owned industrial space in Yaphank. Rumors also swirled about the proposed PBA contract.
But amidst these very weighty issues, two bills sponsored by Republican Legislator Tom Cilmi, which had been held up in Committee, passed unanimously. First up was a bill directing the County's IT Department to develop a program to sell "sponsorships" or advertising on County websites. While the Federal Government's GSA prohibits advertising on .gov domains, it is permitted on other domains.
Cilmi said, "This is an out-of-the-box idea to create a growing, recurring revenue stream for the County. I envision creating websites that promote all of the County's assets, such as our parks, history, the arts, transportation, economic development, etc., on which we could sell sponsorships. Business as usual is not going to work anymore. We have to get creative."
A second bill sponsored by Cilmi requires that all rules and regulations promulgated by County departments are published on the County's website. Cilmi says there is always a lot of uncertainty and misinformation about the County's rules as they apply to development, business regulation, environmental protection and the like.
"This bill is aimed at transparency," he said. "The Legislature in passing laws cedes a lot of responsibility and authority to our departments to come up with methods of enforcement and guidelines to achieve certain results. The Legislature believes all of these rules should be made public to end the confusion."
The Legislature also voted to sell a 220 acre parcel of land to the Brookhaven Rail Terminal to create a freight rail spur off the Ronkonkoma line. This will expand commercial development on land that's already zoned for industrial use which will create jobs, generate additional property tax revenue, and remove a significant amount of commercial tractor trailers from the highways. Cilmi called it a win-win-win for the County, the environment and the economy. The sale will net the County close to $20 million.
After years of debate, the Legislature voted to sell the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility netting the County $23 million from the sale and saving the County $5 mill. to $7 million annually in recurring taxpayer subsidy. Cilmi had been a proponent of the sale, but was concerned that the sale price was $13 million less than the previous offer which the Legislature fought against. Citing this concern, along with a clause in the bill which called for tax incentives for the buyer, Cilmi voted against the bill which passed with 10 of 18 votes. Still, Cilmi said he is happy to be out of the nursing home business. He said, "While I was not satisfied with this particular deal, the truth is we did not belong in this business. There are many empty beds in other homes in the area run by private operators who know how to make money. This was a losing proposition for our taxpayers and while in the past, tough decisions like this were avoided, the fiscal realities of today cannot be ignored."
The question of the PBA contract never came up in the meeting. Sources say it's likely to be dealt with at the Legislature's subsequent meeting in October.
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi filed a series of three bills aimed at promoting budget transparency and encouraging public input in the budget process. The three pieces of legislation, all of which Cilmi has put forth previously in one form or another, comprise what he calls the Taxpayer Awareness Act. For a video explanation, click here.
The first of the bills (IR-1703-2012) requires that the annual vote on Suffolk’s $2.7 billion operating budget, which determines the County’s portion of property taxes, take place before Election Day each year. Cilmi said, “If members are going to make the argument for increased taxes, it should be done prior to Election Day so the voters know exactly where we all stand. To vote on the budget the day after Election Day, as has been done for years, no longer passes the smell test with the taxpayers.”
The second bill (IR-1704-2012) would force deliberations on the budget out into the open by requiring meetings to be held in public. Presently, a nine member “budget working group” is chosen by the Presiding Officer. The group meets privately to discuss the budget and piece together what’s referred to as the “omnibus” amendment, a bill which Cilmi says typically seeks to amend more than a thousand line items in the County Executive’s Recommended Budget. Cilmi says while other legislators are invited to listen in from outside the room, the working group is deliberately kept to nine members to avoid open meetings laws. Legislator Cilmi said, “There is absolutely no good reason why the whole process couldn’t and shouldn’t take place in an open forum where all legislators can have input on the record and where taxpayers, employees and all the other constituencies effected by the budget can weigh in.”
The final part of the Taxpayer Awareness Act (IR-1705-2012) requires budget amendments to be filed at least five days prior to a vote. Last year’s omnibus amendment was emailed to the full Legislature after 10pm the night of Election Day. The Legislature voted on the bill the following morning, a scant twelve hours later. Cilmi said neither the Legislature, nor the media, nor the public has enough time to fully comprehend the scope of the changes, and that leads to mistakes. “You have to ask yourself, ‘why would the Legislature want to release the bill at 10pm the night before the vote?’,” Cilmi questioned. “To most people the answer is obvious.”
Cilmi concluded, “The Legislature has been working this way for several years and I understand there’s a reluctance to change. No doubt these changes would present challenges. The process could potentially take longer and be more arduous. The added political pressure from public involvement could be substantial enough to actually impact decisions. But hard work, careful deliberation and tough decisions are what we get paid for and as far as public input impacting our decisions…isn’t that what representative government is all about?”
All three bills are proposed Local Laws and must go through the public hearing process. Public hearings will be held at regular meetings of the Legislature on August 21 at 2:30pm in Riverhead and on September 13 at 2:30pm in Hauppauge.
Legislator Tom Cilmi said today that any meaningful discussion of Suffolk County's budget must start with credibility. "We are making decisions that are impacting people's lives," he said, "and it seems like we have absolutely no idea how big a deficit we're facing."
The County Executive's Budget Office and the Legislature's Budget Review Office agreed weeks after County Executive Steve Bellone took office that the County was facing a three-year $406 million deficit. Soon after, the special task force (a group of seven private sector individuals assembled by Bellone) pegged the three year number at $530 million. When Comptroller Joseph Sawicki later said that the 2011 deficit was twice the $30 million that the task force accounted for, that brought the overall projection up to $560 million. And a month after that, the projection was revised down to $300 million.
Cilmi said, "In a span of four months the deficit projection went up $160 million and back down $260 million. There's no doubt the number is big, but how can we do business this way? We're not talking about $10 or $20 million which could be explained away by fluctuations in sales tax. We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. So do we send employees to the unemployment line based on a $560 million deficit or a $300 million deficit? Do we cut services based on the higher number or the lower number?"
Cilmi, a second term Republican, said that whether Bellone, a newly elected Democrat, inflated the numbers purposefully or mistakenly is not the issue. "We all want to move forward and work together to bring the County back to fiscal health. We just need an accurate starting point."
According to Cilmi, the Legislature's Budget Review Office is once again crunching the numbers and he hopes the analysis will shed some light on reality. "There's no doubt that tough decisions lie ahead and some of these decisions have been put off for way too long," he said. "We simply cannot continue to spend what we don't have."
Although new district lines won’t take effect until January 2014, Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi is not wasting any time getting to know future constituents in Ronkonkoma and Hauppauge. Recently, he addressed concerns in both communities.
In Ronkonkoma, a LIPA pole in front of the Post Office on Hawkins Avenue was dangerously leaning into the road. Cilmi called LIPA, Verizon and Cablevision, all of whom responded rapidly, installing a new pole, transferring the necessary connections and removing the old pole.
In Hauppauge, runoff from an unfinished development just north of Terry Road has been causing excessive mud, sand and debris to accumulate on neighboring streets. Cilmi is working with the Town of Islip to ensure that the developer expeditiously remedies the situation.
Cilmi said, “I’m excited for the opportunity to represent and serve residents on the Islip side of Hauppauge and in expanded areas of Ronkonkoma and Bohemia. Some of the issues may differ, but mostly we’re all just looking for a safe, affordable, decent quality of life.”
Legislator Tom Cilmi attended a press conference with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislators Hahn and Anker and members of the business community to announce a new on-line permitting system aimed at speeding up Health Department and Public Works permit applications. The system is called Suffolk County Submission and Status Terminal.
The webpage, accessible at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/sst, provides a secure gateway which allows users to apply for and track multiple permit applications on-line and in real time.
Legislator Cilmi, a vocal advocate for government efficiency measures, said government is finally catching up to the private sector. He said, “This begins a new day in Suffolk County. Inefficient bureaucracy and red tape too often stand in the way of job creation and economic development. This online system will go a long way towards making our permit processes more efficient and transparent, providing key information to applicants in real time, and that’s critical to their success. After all, the best way for government to create jobs, is to stop preventing them.”
Cilmi said long wait times for permits can pose a financial burden on entrepreneurs who often borrow money for startup costs only to see their investment sit idle while waiting for what the former businessman calls, “the paperwork shuffle.”
“We are handicapping new business owners before they even have a chance,” he said.
A former Chamber of Commerce president, Cilmi said he had been working with members of the previous administration for nearly a year on the concept of online permitting. Many of those same officials remain in the new Bellone administration. Still, Cilmi says, County Executive Bellone deserves credit for making this a priority and getting it done.
“This is just a beginning,” he said, “but it’s a great beginning. It’s results. Kudos to Steve Bellone for seeing the need and getting this done.”
Today at a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature’s Government Operations Committee, Suffolk’s new Deputy County Executive for Performance Management, Tom Melito, told the Committee he thought using “LEAN Government” principles in Suffolk County was a good idea and something he would pursue. The statement prompted Committee member, Legislator Tom Cilmi, to table a bill he sponsored directing the Planning Department to explore the use of LEAN in Suffolk.
Contrary to the literal definition of “lean,” the term does not refer to the size of government, but rather is a scientific system for breaking down process systems and eliminating all the wasteful steps. Cilmi says the management tool, developed in the private sector, is also being used effectively in the public sector in places like Iowa, Minnesota and Connecticut.
At the meeting, Cilmi also suggested books by Ken Miller, including “We Don’t Make Widgets” and “Extreme Government Makeover” that focus on increasing government’s capacity to get things done. In an email to the Committee after the meeting, Mr. Melito said he returned to his office to find a copy of “We Don’t Make Widgets” on his desk and vowed to “make use of it.” Cilmi said he had no idea how the book got there..
Legislator Cilmi said, “Passing laws is a means to an end. If we can achieve the ends without the law, it’s all the more gratifying. Once again, I’m proud to have led the way in proposing big ideas that could lead to meaningful changes in the way we deliver services in Suffolk County. Following LEAN principles, we can not only accomplish more at less of a cost, but equally as important, we can improve service delivery which in turn can have a significant positive impact on economic development, jobs, public health and in so many other areas.”
Cilmi has also been at the forefront of mandate relief, having advocated for a repeal of the out-of-county tuition mandate which costs Suffolk taxpayers $14 million annually. He sponsored and passed legislation which will result in millions of dollars of recurring savings.
He also led the way in the realm of pension reform, having co-authored a report with the former County Executive which offered a thorough analysis of Suffolk’s pension costs along with several recommendations on how to improve the system.
Most recently, Cilmi teamed up with Legislator DuWayne Gregory and County Executive Bellone in creating New York State’s first land bank, which will help Suffolk deal with contaminated properties, an issue which Cilmi has been working on since his election. The land bank will allow Suffolk to sell contaminated properties, putting them back on the tax rolls, getting them cleaned up, and returning millions of dollars to Suffolk’s coffers while at the same time, creating economic development opportunities and ridding communities of blight.
Cilmi said, “The voters of Suffolk County elect us to lead. Sometimes that means compromising on details but never on principle. It means taking on the hard issues and not giving up. It means working with others to get things accomplished which will ultimately improve the quality of life for our residents. I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to do those things.”
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi is claiming another victory in his fight against the out of county tuition mandate, particularly as it relates to F.I.T.
Counties in New York State are required to partially subsidize residents who attend community colleges in other counties. F.I.T. is the only community college that offers four year and graduate degrees. That means that, while the per-student subsidy to Nassau Community College, for example, is around $2,000 a year, the per-student cost for F.I.T. is more than $10,000 annually. Cilmi says this could cost Suffolk County taxpayers $7 million this year.
Having received an invoice from F.I.T. for a total of $3,566,502 for the fall and winter semesters 2011-2012, Suffolk’s Comptroller Joseph Sawicki sent payment of just $1,944,752. Legislator Cilmi sponsored a bill in 2011 prohibiting the Comptroller from paying F.I.T. for more than an associate degree, a measure with which Sawicki agrees. He said, “It’s time to bring it to a head and fight it out.”
Cilmi said his bill will save Suffolk taxpayers more than $3 million annually. He admits the battle may not be over. He said, “Passing my bill was Round 1. Paying F.I.T. for only those students in an associate degree program is Round 2. F.I.T. may come after us for the balance, but our law is now crystal clear, and case law supports my position that, at most, we should only be responsible for two years of subsidy, just like every other community college.”
Legislator Cilmi says that the entire mandate should be overturned. He said, “We have one of the finest community colleges in New York. Enrollment has been soaring in recent years. If students from Suffolk County want to attend a community college other than SCCC, they absolutely have that right, but the taxpayers of Suffolk County should not have to foot the bill.”
He says that, according to documentation he’s received, Suffolk County in 2010-2011 paid for 2,531 students to attend Nassau Community College and 722 students to attend F.I.T. The total annual cost of the mandate for those two schools alone is more than $12 million. Meanwhile, only 266 students from other counties, the vast majority of whom reside in Nassau, come to Suffolk County Community College.
Cilmi says he’s gratified that his efforts have resulted in savings but that he won’t be satisfied until the whole mandate is repealed. “Taxpayers can no longer afford to pay for these mandates and local governments can no longer ignore them. Stay tuned for Round 3.”
In an article in the Long Island Press, Legislator Tom Cilmi explained his reasons for sponsoring a bill, which passed unanimously last year, to prevent the Health Department from making major policy changes as a result of the Department's Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan.
Citing the perils of unchecked administrative authority, Cilmi said, "When we’re going to make policy decisions based on [certain] facts, that will have major impact not only on the future of our environment and public health, but also on the future of our economy, then those decisions are most appropriately made with counsel from all of the stakeholders, but made by the legislature. I don’t want unelected administrative officials mandating anything. There are other implications to these decisions that need to be weighed along with everything."
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi today (Feb. 3, 2012) issued a statement applauding Acting Police Commissioner Edward Webber for taking steps to modernize the police department. After nearly a year of trying to pursue the issue administratively and getting no results, Cilmi filed a bill to require the Department to ensure that phones at the precincts would not go unanswered. Today Cilmi withdrew his legislation after speaking with the Department.
He said, “The Commissioner assured me that he’s taking steps to modernize the Department including utilizing technology that will enhance communications within the precincts. There is no need to pursue legislation when you have someone like Commissioner Webber in place who is willing to work cooperatively towards continuous improvement. I applaud his efforts and look forward to working with him. Therefore I am withdrawing IR-1010.”
Asked if he thought his proposal was the catalyst for change, Cilmi said he didn’t know but offered, “I expressed my concerns to the Commissioner and he agreed. I care about the results, not the credit. People deserve to have their phone calls answered, particularly when they’re calling the police.”
Calling the justice system “clearly broken” in the aftermath of the killing of New York City Police Officer Peter Figoski by reputed career criminal, Lamont Pride, Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) is calling for the overhaul of a system which, he says, all too often sets criminals loose to strike again, sometimes with absolutely tragic results.
In a letter to Newsday’s Publisher, Fred Groser, Legislator Cilmi extracted this paragraph from a story appearing in Newsday as grounds for his claim:
“Police said Pride is wanted in North Carolina on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon and had last been arrested Nov. 3, but was released by a judge on his own recognizance after it was determined authorities in North Carolina would not extradite him to face charges there. Pride had a history of violence, including at least five prior arrests in New York and North Carolina on charges ranging from drug sale to grand larceny.” (Newsday, Four More Charged In Death of Cop from Long Island, December 13, 2011)
Cilmi asked the newspaper, which has been known for its in-depth reporting by way of a number of multi-part stories dealing with a variety of the most vexing issues of the day, to undertake a complete examination of the justice system including, but not limited to, the following topics:
1. Evidentiary rules/standards
2. Length of time from arraignment to trial
3. Cost of public defenders
4. Bail amounts and crimes committed while those accused are out on bail
5. The justness and effectiveness of current sentencing standards
6. Plea Bargaining & reduced sentences
7. The “luxury” of incarceration (three square meals, child care, cable television and better medical benefits than many law-abiding citizens)
Cilmi said, “Newsday has done a very good job over the years distilling complicated topics. Our justice system is just one of many areas where we need large-scale change. Officer Figoski’s violent death at the hands of this heartless criminal, and the relentless pain caused as a result, needn’t be in vain if we use it as a rallying cry to fix a system that’s clearly broken.”
Legislator Cilmi acknowledged that crime is an issue much bigger than the justice system. “Fixing the justice system is obviously only one part of the solution. There are so many factors leading to criminal behavior…societal, sociological, psychological, etc. It’s a really big problem; but we cannot allow the size of a challenge to dissuade us from action. Yes, this is completely beyond the jurisdiction of the County Legislature, but I am not about to chalk this up to someone else’s problem. I am not going to remain silent when one of America’s finest is senselessly killed by someone who should have been in jail.”
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