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A08993 Summary:

COSPNSRPaulin, Ardila, Colton, Rosenthal L, Seawright, Bichotte Hermelyn, Levenberg, Lucas, Burdick, Simone, Sillitti, Durso, Brown K, Gandolfo, DeStefano, Simon, Weprin, Davila
Amd Part TT §2, Chap 58 of 2023; amd §256-b, County L; amd §1210-A, Tax L
Amends provisions of the Suffolk county water quality restoration act relating to the expenditure of funds for certain water projects.
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A08993 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the county law, the tax law and the Suffolk county water quality restoration act, in relation to the use of moneys from the water quality restoration fund   PURPOSE: Amends the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act (Part TT of Chapter 58 of the Laws of 2023)   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1. Amends Section 2 of Part TT of the Laws of 2023 constituting the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act. Section 2. Amends subdivision 11 of Section 256-b of the County Law Section 3. Amends subdivision (d) of Section 1210-A of the Tax Law Section 4. Provides that after January 1, 2030, the Suffolk County Exec- utive shall prepare a report to the Governor and Legislature making recommendations regarding any modifications to this act, if any, with regard to the future distribution of revenue for water quality improve- ment projects based upon the future demand for funding for wastewater treatment projects and individual septic system projects. Section 5. Sets forth an immediate effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: The county of Suffolk ("county"), with a population of one million five hundred thousand persons, has in excess of three hundred eighty thousand existing onsite wastewater disposal systems, comprised mostly of cesspools and septic systems, with two hundred nine thousand of these onsite systems in environmentally sensitive areas which could benefit from nitrogen-reducing technologies. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recognizes Long Island as having a sole source aquifer system for its drinking water supply. Suffolk county has an imminent need to preserve this valuable water resource by reducing the amount of nitrogen discharged into the ground water by onsite systems. The full water cycle is impacted by increasing quantities of nutrients, pathogens, pesticides, volatile organic contam- inants and saltwater intrusion, as well as a number of emerging threats such as prescription drugs and sea level rise. The Suffolk county subwatersheds wastewater plan ("SWP"), certified by the department of environmental conservation as a Nine Elements Watershed (9E) plan, has documented the devastating effects of high levels of nitrogen pollution, not only on the drinking water quality, but also on coastal ecosystems, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, eelgrass, wetlands, shellfish, coastal resilience and in triggering harmful algal blooms. The SWP is a longterm plan to address the need for wastewater treatment infrastructure throughout the county comprehensive- ly over a period of fifty years. The SWP delineates the source and concentration of nitrogen loading in one hundred ninety-one subwat- ersheds throughout the county and establishes nitrogen reduction goals for each watershed. For many areas of the county, installing or connecting sewers is not a practical or cost-effective method of treating wastewater. For that reason, the SWP prescribes a hybrid approach that relies on sewering where feasible, and the replacement of cesspools and septic systems with innovative/alternative onsite wastewater treatment systems. The consol- idation of any or all of the twenty-seven county sewer districts, as well as unsewered areas of the county, into a county-wide wastewater management district, the establishment of a water quality restoration fund, and a county board of trustees to monitor progress and the allo- cation of resources consistent with the goals of the SWP would allow for the implementation of a much needed integrated long-term wastewater solution for the county through comprehensive planning and management to improve water quality. The purpose of this act is to create a water quality restoration fund to finance projects for the protection, preservation, and rehabilitation of groundwater and surface waters as recommended by the SWP. This act would allow the funding of projects that will mitigate wastewater pollutants utilizing the best available technology consistent with the SWP. The water quality restoration fund would be financed with a dedicated and recurring revenue source by the enactment of an additional sales and compensating use tax at the rate of one-eighth of one percent until 2060. After deducting administrative and planning costs, fifty percent of the revenue shall be dedicated to funding individual septic system projects and fifty percent of the revenue shall be dedicated to funding projects related to wastewater treatment facilities. Such tax would be enacted pursuant to a mandatory referendum. This act shall also provide Suffolk county with the authority to create a county-wide wastewater management district through the consolidation of existing county sewer districts with currently unsewered areas of the county. A county-wide wastewater management district will provide an integrated and efficient approach to managing wastewater services across the county; allow the county to enhance and expand its incentive program to property owners to upgrade their wastewater treatment systems; to manage, monitor and enforce nitrogen reduction programs throughout the county; complete additional sewer extension projects; improve the economic wellbeing of communities; and provide an opportunity to consol- idate and streamline the county's existing sewer district system and normalize the inequitable rate structure that has long existed. In addition, this act will extend the existing one-quarter of one percent sales tax utilized to finance the county drinking water protection program until 2060. Twenty-five percent of such tax is appor- tioned for sewer taxpayer protection. Beginning with the first fiscal year after the adoption of the water quality restoration fund, a portion of the net collections of such tax apportioned for sewer taxpayer protection shall be transferred to the water quality restoration fund, established pursuant to subdivision 11 of section 256-b of the county law. Such revenues shall be dedicated solely to funding individual septic system projects as defined in such subdivision. In the first four years, the portion to be transferred from funds apportioned for sewer taxpayer protection to the water quality restoration fund shall be five percent. In year five, the portion to be transferred from funds appor- tioned for sewer taxpayer protection to the water quality restoration fund shall be twenty percent. The amount to be transferred shall be thirty percent in year six, forty percent in year seven, fifty percent in year eight, and seventy percent in years nine and ten. The portion transferred to the fund shall be fifty percent in all years thereafter.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2024: New Legislation   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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