Bellone selects task force to review Suffolk County budget

Suffolk County Executive
ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone delivers his victory speech on Election Day in November.

New Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has begun to tackle what he’s called the county’s biggest issue: the budget deficit.

Mr. Bellone announced the formation of a six-man task force Thursday comprised of area financial experts who are expected to thoroughly review county finances. Mr. Bellone said the group will issue a report on the county budget next month.

“We need a better understanding of the budget because we have two branches of government disagreeing about the size of the deficit,” Mr. Bellone said in a statement. “[There are] hundreds of positions funded for just six months and tens of millions in potentially speculative revenues.”

“The Budget Task Force is comprised of experts who will volunteer their time to provide taxpayers with a detailed, transparent analysis which will be able to withstand any scrutiny.”

The new County Executive has been on the offensive over Suffolk’s financial state of affairs since taking over for Steve Levy this week. Fitch ratings recently issued a negative outlook on county bonds, the second agency to do so in the past year.

“The Legislature did its best to give County Executive Bellone a balanced budget and a functioning county government when he took office but we recognize that there are great problems with the existing budget,” said William Lindsay, the Legislature’s presiding officer. “It is my hope that the task force will be able to determine exactly where Suffolk stands fiscally and chart a definitive course for the future.”

Who’s on the Budget Review Task Force?

Richard Halverson was an Assistant Deputy Director of the New York City Financial Control Board, the state agency responsible for overseeing the City’s budget during the fiscal crises, 1976-1977. He later became an Assistant to Mayor Ed Koch during his first year in office. He then became Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education where he was responsible for financial operations of the largest public school system in the state. From 1991 through 1999, Halverson was appointed Deputy Comptroller of the City of New York, serving at various times in three different capacities:  Deputy Comptroller for Budget, Deputy Comptroller for Finance, and Deputy Comptroller for Pensions. He’s also taught political science and public administration at Bloomfield College in New Jersey and at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

Michael Solomon is a former member of New York State Citizens Budget Commission. He also serves as a Managing Director in the Public Finance Department at Ramirez & Co, one of the nation’s oldest minority owned investment banking firms.  Mr. Solomon has over 25 years of experience working with state and local governments in developing successful capital finance, debt management, budget and credit rating strategies.  He spent a majority of his career at Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch before joining Ramirez last year. He’s also served on the New York State’s Property Tax Commission  and has lead financings for Nassau County and the Nassau Health Care Corporation.  Mr. Solomon is a Long Island native and graduated from SUNY Albany where he majored in finance.

Nathan Leventhal has served four New York City mayors in different capacities. Leventhal was Chief of Staff to John Lindsay, Deputy Mayor to Ed Koch, and Transition Chairman for Mayors David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg.  He currently chairs Mayor Bloomberg’s Committee on Appointments.  In the business world, Leventhal serves on the Boards of equity, fixed income and money market funds managed by the Dreyfus Corporation.  Other New York City governmental positions held include Fiscal Director of the Human Resources Administration and Secretary of the New York City Charter Revision Commission among others.  In Washington, D.C., Leventhal served as an Assistant to the Executive Director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure, chaired by Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  Leventhal received his B.A. in Public Affairs from Queens College and his J.D., cum laude, from Columbia Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Law Review.

Stuart A. Klein served as the First Deputy Director of New York City’s Office of Management and Budget where he was responsible for developing and reviewing strategies to manage long term budget imbalances including expense reduction programs, state and local legislative proposals, asset sales and other revenue solutions.  Mr. Klein worked closely with the City Actuary and the City Comptroller’s Office to implement new accounting standard requiring the estimation of the City’s long term liability for retiree health care costs (OPEB). With the City Comptroller’s Office, he jointly managed the citywide implementation of the City’s integrated budget and accounting system for the “Year 2000”. He was also responsible for overseeing citywide technology budget including development of new citywide administrative systems. Mr. Klein holds a B.S. in Public Accounting from State University of New York at Albany.

Charles K. Stein has had over 40 years of financial management experience prior to his retirement from Suffolk County Community College in July of 2009 as its Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs.  His previous Suffolk County experience included Deputy County Executive for Finance and Chief Deputy County Comptroller.  He was also the first Legislative Analyst with the Suffolk County Office of Budget Review. Additionally, Mr. Stein worked with the United States General Accounting Office (currently known as the Government Accountability Office) for almost 11 years at the beginning of his working career.  During that time, he was a member of the GAO team overseeing New York City during its fiscal crisis of the mid -1970s.  Mr. Stein has formerly served as President of the New York State Government Finance Officers Association and Vice President of the New York State Community College Business Officers Association.

Edward W. Moneypenny has served as an Advisor of 7-Eleven Inc., since November 2005. Mr. Moneypenny joined 7-Eleven Inc. in January 21, 2002 and served as its Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance from 2002 to November 2005. He spent more than 25 years in the energy industry and served as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President … of Finance of Oryx Energy Co. from 1992 to 1994 and its Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance from 1988 to 1991. Since 2001, he served as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance of Covanta Energy Corporation and served from 1999 to 2000 as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance of Florida Progress Corporation. He served in a variety of senior executive finance positions for Sun Company. He started his career at the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand. Mr. Moneypenny has been an Independent Director of New York & Company Inc. since March 17, 2006. He serves as a Director of MESBIC Ventures Holding Company and has served as a member of the Audit and Budget and Finance Committees for the Town of Southampton.  He graduated from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a BS degree in Accounting and received a MS degree in Accounting Science from the University of Illinois.

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