Lesko warns of cuts
as landfill plan opposed
Newsday May 6, 2012
By SOPHIA CHANG
Brookhaven Town board members are
dealing with a double dose of bad news: declining tax
revenue and community resistance to expanding the
Yaphank landfill to make more money.
Town finance Commissioner Tamara
Wright has projected that first quarter mortgage tax
receipts will total $8.9 million, short of the $10
million that was calculated in the budget. That comes on
top of a $500,000 budget shortfall in mortgage tax from
2011. A recovery later this year is unlikely, she
said at a Thursday work session. "We might be at a
new normal," Wright said.
With declining revenue, Town
Supervisor Mark Lesko warned that service cuts may be
coming. "The problem we face is, we have essentially
kept services intact," he said. "That's going to
The landfill has been a vital
source of income for Brookhaven, generating $45 million
a year. Lesko recently proposed expanding the landfill
-- to both extend its life and generate millions in
additional revenue. Neighbors opposed to an expansion
say the dump is smelly and coats properties with ash and
At the work session, Jeff Kassner,
town director of environmental protection, presented a
formal proposal to increase the landfill's height by 50
feet, making it 320 feet high and capable of holding an
additional 3.9 million cubic yards of waste.
Representatives from the
Brookhaven Community Coalition, which opposes the move,
offered alternatives, such as imposing a $20-a-year
townwide landfill fee and opening satellite landfills.
"We need you guys to help us out,"
said coalition member Wayne Losee.
"We want you to balance the
budget, but not add to the burden," said another member,
Town board members questioned the
feasibility of the proposed alternatives. "Why
would you, as an environmentalist, put five other
landfills in other districts?" asked Councilman Dan
Panico. But Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who
represents Yaphank, said the town needs to find ways to
help residents affected by the landfill.
"The problem is this is enormously unfair to the people
living around the landfill," she said, urging the board
to consider accelerated intake as a reasonable
The board is expected to vote on
the landfill expansion at Tuesday's meeting.