Logan CrawfordMay 17, 2017, 11:02 pm

Steve Bellone touts decrease in unemployment during State of the County Address

County executive talks about fighting corruption and clamping down on gang violence

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone began his 2017 State of the County Address by stating unemployment in Suffolk is down, property values are up, and taxpayers are saving $100 million a year due to a reduction in the county workforce.

In a plan to save taxpayers even more money, Bellone announced a new initiative to share services between municipalities.

"Our goal is to work in partnership with our towns and villages to achieve whatever savings are possible while growing our ability to serve our residents," Bellone said.

He says the county is making an effort to reverse decades of water pollution by making investments in sewer projects and will provide advanced wastewater treatment systems for hundreds of homeowners in Suffolk.

Another focus of Bellone's is public safety. Namely eradicatingMS-13 and cracking down on the opioid epidemic. He says police have been making unprecedented gang and drug arrests while he also wants to invest in gang and drug prevention programs.

"I will always support the work of the Suffolk County Police Department to keep our communities safe. That is why we hired 173 new police officers to join the ranks of one of the finest police departments in this country," he said.

Bellone pledged that the county is addressing the problems of zombie houses with the goal of cleaning them up and getting those properties back on the market.

He closed his speech by rallying for ethics policy reforms and calling on leaders to be more transparent to create "a government in Suffolk County that can serve as a model of ethics for other communities across this nation."

Suffolk County Republicans responded to Democrat Bellone's State of the County Address minutes after it wrapped up, asserting that Suffolk is not in good shape.

"Suffolk County is racing off the edge of a cliff. Over the last several years, the county executive and Democrats have amassed a structural deficit of half a billion dollars. That means this county is underwater," said Suffolk County Republican Caucus Leader Kevin McCaffrey.

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