Hauppauge - (WALK) The Suffolk Legislature Tuesday approved County Executive Steve Bellone's proposal to eleminate the office of treasurer and merge its functions under the authority of the county comptroller, a move Bellone says will save taxpayers an estimated $833,000 in salaries and benefits.
Bellone's proposal passed 12- 3 with two abstentions and one member absent. The decision puts the matter before voters in a November referendum.
"With our fiscal crisis, it is critical that we look at all opportunities where we can consolidate departments, improve our efficience and protect Suffolk County taxpayers," said Bellone in a statement shortly after the Legislature's decision.
If consolidation passes in November, Treasurer Angie Carpenter and four staffers would be be out of work, remaining employees would join the office of Comptroller Joseph Sawicki.
Carpenter, a Republican, was defeated by Democret Bellone in the 2011 campaign for county executive. Sawicki, also a Republican, reaches his 12-year term limit next year but if voters approve the plan in November he would serve as interim financial officer then be permitted to seek the newly-created office of chief financial officer in 2014.
The comptroller's responsibilities include issuing bonds and performing audits of county spending. The treasurer collects monies, including delinquent taxes. Suffolk is the only county in New York State with both an elected comptroller and treasurer. Neighboring Nassau County has an elected office of comptroller, but its office of treasurer is not lead by an elected official.
Photo: Office of Suffolk County Comptroller