October 14, 2008

Hundreds of Billions to Save Wall Street; Local, County and State Governments Plan Massive Cuts; and The Suffolk Legislature Approves Millions to Buy Dick Cavett’s Luxury Seafront Property

NEW YORK, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of a decision by the Suffolk County Legislature to spend millions of taxpayer's dollars to purchase a portion of Dick Cavett's Montauk estate, the Association for a Better Long Island is appealing to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and New York State Governor David Paterson to reconsider plans to close on the $18 million deal as governments face draconian service cuts following Wall Street's economic implosion.

Desmond Ryan, Executive Director of the Association for a Better Long Island (ABLI), http://www.betterlongisland.com/ observed, "In the face of the most extraordinary financial crisis in seventy years the Suffolk Legislature is prepared to put down $18 million to buy a vista from a Montauk property owner who couldn't get his price on the market. As gifted as he is, Dick Cavett himself couldn't write such a tragicomedy as this. Decisions are being made on every level of government as to how best survive the coming budget shortfall while the Suffolk Legislature proceeds as if the real estate bubble is still floating unperturbed over their heads. Will someone please wake them up and tell them has happened over the last two weeks?"

Ryan says the ABLI is appealing personally to both the Governor and the County Executive to exercise their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayer and rethink their respective positions on the land acquisition. Plans have called for acquiring Cavett's 76.8 acres that surround his home, including 1,000 feet of prime oceanfront. Mr. Cavett keeps his mansion.

The ABLI executive director warns that regardless of how Wall Street responds in the weeks to come, serious damage has been done to government ledgers. He notes that every element of revenue generation, including income taxes, sales taxes, mortgage taxes, property taxes and more will all suffer critical shortfalls. "Social service programs are going to be slashed and Dick Cavett will have his view. There is something profoundly and seriously unfunny about this scenario," says Ryan.

The ABLI has expressed alarm about the extent public tax dollars have been used to acquire private land that goes far beyond the protection of drinking water aquifers. The Long Island Economic and Social Policy Institute at Dowling College has completed the first comprehensive study of land acquisition ever undertaken by local municipal governments, and it finds that since 1976, when Long Island governments first began an open space preservation effort, Suffolk County government, and its townships, have assumed the lead in this effort, with taxpayers investing nearly $1.3 billion in bond debt service costs, sales taxes, property taxes, and real estate transfer taxes to purchase over 34,000 acres of open space and preserve thousands more acres of farmland. Add to that number nearly $700 million in property taxes that would have been generated by these parcels, but instead where shifted to Suffolk's private property owners to cover the municipal revenue gap, and the total costs for land preservation efforts exceed $2 billion to date. The cost per Suffolk County homeowner is currently estimated at $10,000 per household.

The entire document is on the Institute's web site http://www.dowling.edu/LIESP so that every property owner can download the data and study the report in its entirety, including its methodology and its implications. The Institute's research was sponsored, in part, under a grant from the Long Island Real Estate Organization, a coalition of regional real estate based business organizations of which the ABLI is a member.

The Association for a Better Long Island

CONTACT: Desmond Ryan of Association for a Better Long Island,+1-631-951-2410

Web Site: http://www.betterlongisland.com/http://www.dowling.edu/LIESP