In a 16- 2 vote, the Suffolk County Legislature approved Introductory Resolution No. 1566, a measure sponsored by Legislator Tom Cilmi, which wrests control of the Sanitary Code in Suffolk County from the Board of Health and gives it to the Legislature.
Cilmi’s bill was in response to the Health Department’s Revised Water Resource Management Plan which details a deterioration of water quality in Suffolk’s aquifers and surface waters. While Cilmi says the results of the $800,000 report are concerning, he says the Legislature is the policy making arm of government and should have control of any significant policy initiatives coming from the report.
“Decisions and policy directives which could have a significant impact on public health, on the environment and on the economy should be fully vetted by the Legislature in a public forum fitting the gravity of such decisions,” said Cilmi, “and the Legislature should have the final say.”
Legislator Cilmi says he’s always looking for balance between environmental concerns such as open space and drinking water preservation, which he agrees are important, and economic concerns such as jobs and taxes. He says putting policy decisions such as zoning requirements in the hands of the Health Department could create an imbalance where environmental concerns are the exclusive factor and economic factors are ignored.
“To ignore the economy and jobs in today’s climate is foolish and irresponsible,” said Cilmi, “but that’s very well what would happen. Today we sent two very clear messages with the passage of this bill: 1. That the Legislature is the policy making branch of County government; and 2. that any significant change in policy in Suffolk County should take into consideration the economy as well as the environment.”