Suffolk County Legislature Resolution Creating An Alternative Parks Funding Committee
(Unofficial copy)

Intro. Res. No. 1501-2002
Laid on Table 4/30/2002
Introduced by Legislators Fields, Caracciolo, Carpenter, Haley

RESOLUTION NO. 652-2002, ESTABLISHING A COMMITTEE TO STUDY COMMON SENSE ALTERNATIVE FUNDING MECHANISMS FOR THE SUFFOLK COUNTY PARKS SYSTEM

WHEREAS, Suffolk County has a well-earned reputation as a national leader as a result of its successful programs to preserve open space and sensitive groundwater recharge areas such as the Central Suffolk Pine Barrens Preserve; and

WHEREAS, the people of Suffolk County have voted repeatedly to authorize the investment of public resources for the acquisition and preservation of such lands to protect the underground drinking water supply and quality of life; and

WHEREAS, as a result of the success of such programs as the Open Space Program, the Drinking Water Protection Program, the Preservation Partnership Program, and the Suffolk Community Greenways County Fund, Suffolk County now has one of the largest municipal parks systems in the United States, totaling more than 42,000 acres; and

WHEREAS, the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation is the agency responsible for the protection of this historic taxpayer investment and the proper management of the resulting accumulation of parkland holdings; and

WHEREAS, staffing levels in the Department are little more than half what they were twenty-five years ago, when the parks system was comprised of 11,000 acres, or about one-quarter the size what it is today; and

WHEREAS, additional resources are required to protect the taxpayer investment and the proper management of the resulting accumulation of parkland holdings; and

WHEREAS, the Suffolk County Parks System currently generates revenues that cover 60 percent of its operating costs; and

WHEREAS, the establishment of an alternative funding mechanism for the funding of parkland protection, management, and maintenance could enhance the County's ability to protect the significant taxpayer investment in recreation and conservation areas, open space, and the Pine Barrens Watershed, while easing fiscal pressure on the County operating budget; now, therefore be it

1st RESOLVED, that an alternative Parks Funding Committee (Committee) is hereby created to examine the potential benefits and financial implications of the establishment of a Parks District or similar mechanism to remove funding for parks maintenance and operations and funding from the General Fund of the County Operating Budget; and be it further

2nd RESOLVED, that the Committee shall consist of the following members:
1.) the County Executive or his designee, to serve as Chair;
2.) the Presiding Officer or his designee;
3.) the Chair of the Legislative Parks Committee or her designee;
4.) the Parks Commissioner of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation or his designee;
5.) a member of The Board of Parks Trustees;
6.) a representative of The Suffolk Alliance of Sportsmen, Inc.;
7.) a representative of The Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission;
8.) a representative of The Long Island Convention and Visitor's Bureau;
9.) a member of The Nassau-Suffolk Horseman's Association;
10.) a representative of a nationally recognized and publicly acknowledged environmental organization to be selected by the County Legislature;
11.) a representative of The Nature Conservancy;
12.) a representative of The New York Fishing Tackle and Trade Association;
13.) a representative from the Suffolk County Family Camping Advisory Board (Section 28-10 of the SUFFOLK COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE);
14.) a representative of the Metropolitan Golf Association;
15.) the Director of the Division of Sports and Recreation in the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation;
16.) Director of the Legislative Office of Budget Review, or his or her designee; and
17.) an individual with a background in finance, municipal budgeting, or federal or state fiscal matters, to be selected by the County Legislature;

and be it further

3rd RESOLVED, that the Committee is hereby authorized, empowered, and directed to examine the potential benefits of creating a separate and dedicated funding Parks District mechanism for the Suffolk County Parks System, funded in part through the dedication of all revenues generated within the Parks System for parks-related purposes; and be it further

4th RESOLVED, that the Committee shall examine the process necessary for, and implications of, the creation of a county-wide Parks District or similar mechanism to eliminate the burden of parks-related expenses from the General Fund of the County Operating Budget; and be it further

5th RESOLVED, that the Committee shall issue a report to the County Executive and County Legislature no later than one hundred twenty (120) days subject subsequent to the effective date of this resolution; and be it further

6th RESOLVED, that this Legislature, being the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) lead agency, hereby finds and determines that this resolution constitutes a Type II action pursuant to Section 617.5(c)(20) and (27) of Title 6 of the NEW YORK CODE OF RULES AND REGULATIONS (6 NYCRR) and within the meaning of Section 8-0109(2) of the NEW YORK ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW as a promulgation of regulations, rules, policies, procedures, and legislative decisions in connection with continuing agency administration, management and information collection, and the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is hereby directed to circulate any appropriate SEQRA notices of determination of non-applicability or non-significance in accordance with this resolution.

DATED: June 25, 2002

APPROVED BY:
/s/ Robert J. Gaffney
County Executive of Suffolk County
Date of Approval: 7/11/02