04/30/13 8:00am

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) addressing the Town board Friday.

Although Shelter Island is usually on relatively good terms with the Long Island Power Authority, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) described the company as “something Rube Goldberg might have designed” and said the company has “a real lack of transparency and accountability.”

On hand at Friday’s Town Board meeting, the assemblyman said there’s “a great deal of skepticism about going back to privatization” of the utility company, but the solution might lie in keeping LIPA as a holding company and having the Public Service Commission oversee its operations. In the past, decisions about the now defunct Long Island Lighting Company and LIPA were “rammed down our throats” and this time, the people on Long Island need to be part of the discussion,” Mr Thiele added.

Mr. Thiele’s words about LIPA brought attention to the new cable LIPA will be installing between the North Fork and Shelter Island to protect against power loss and rolling blackouts during the peak summer season .

Shelter Island has had two feeder cables running under the bay and one is out completely while the second is “very old, indeed,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty said. Work that originally was slated to be completed by early June is now slated to begin this week and run through the week of June 24, Mr. Dougherty said.

“The dates have already slipped a lot,” Mr. Dougherty said. “This is like undergoing serious surgery.”

Mr. Dougherty appealed to residents to “please, please bear with us during this period” of reconstruction.

Mr. Thiele noted that CHIPS money — state funding that comes to municipalities for road and bridge work — is to increase this year by 22 percent. It’s the first increase in many years, Mr. Thiele said.

He also noted that Albany is examining opportunities for land acquisition downstate and said he thinks with money drying up at the county level, there might be some opportunities for partnerships with the state. Suffolk County is talking about “dismantling” its open space acquisitions, Mr. Thiele said. But the need remains for both open space and shoreline improvement efforts.

“Right now, I wouldn’t count on too much help from the county,” Mr. Thiele said.

Board members approved the following applications:

• American Direct for installation of an 8,000 pound boat lift at an existing dock in Shelter Island Sound;

• Michael Coles of 42 Gardiners Bay Drive for reconstruction of stone revetment on the south end that was destroyed by Sandy; and

• Joseph Hakim of 8 Club Drive for construction of a new jetty and splash pad to replace a nonfunctional structure.

03/28/13 12:00pm

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) with Shelter Island School students on a visit to the school earlier this year.

Mr. Thiele has brought home the  bacon

Following Wednesday’s good news that the Shelter Island School District will get a boost in state aid for the 2013-14 school year, word came from Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) that he had secured an additional $50,000 outside of the various formula aids.

The  addtional funds brings the district’s total aid package from the announced $521,730 to $571,730, Mr. Thiele said. He had previously represented Shelter Island when he was a Suffolk County legislator, but only became the Island’s assemblyman this year as a result of redistricting.

In  February, Mr. Thiele spoke to Shelter Island students, predicting that the state legislature would restore at least $50,000 of the almost $84,000 that had been cut by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget. Instead, the legislators restored about $70,000 and with word of this additional $50,000 were able to bring a substantial hike to the district.

“I’m very happy that we were able not to just reverse the governor’s reduction, but gain a substantial increase for Shelter Island,” Mr. Thiele said.

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, the district had expected to lose almost $84,000.

With school closed for a spring break this week, Superintendent Michael Hynes wasn’t available for comment.

02/07/13 5:00pm


JULIE LANE PHOTO Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. told Shelter Island social studies students in Brian Doelger’s class Thursday morning he’s optimistic that money will be found to increase the district’s state aid for the 2013-14 school year.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) predicted Thursday morning that Shelter Island will see a restoration of state aid funds that Governor Andrew Cuomo cut from the district in his proposed budget.

“I am extremely optimistic that we’re going to be able to do that,” he told Shelter Island social studies students on a visit to their class. “The governor’s proposal is bad for Long Island and I think it’s unfair,” Mr. Thiele said.

The money won’t come from other districts, but will need to be found elsewhere in the budget, the legislator said. He had previously represented Shelter Island when he was a Suffolk County Legislator and in January, as a result of redistricting, he is again representing the area.

Mr. Thiele previously criticized the governor’s proposed cuts that would see the district lose $83,588 in state aid from the $486,263 it received last year. The loss primarily resulted from the governor’s elimination of about $50,000 in high tax aid, a part of the formula that benefits areas like Long Island where the cost of living and tax payments are considerably higher than in many other parts of the state.

It’s not a Democratic-Republican struggle for money, Mr. Thiele said. State budgets are based on geography where there’s a pull from three basic constituencies — Long Island, New York City and upstate. There’s always a disagreement about how much each area should receive, he said, but cutting out the high tax aid as Mr. Cuomo did is “a violation of that agreement of what the share should be” in communities like Shelter Island, he said.

The district is one of 26 on Long Island that are slated to get less money if the governor’s proposal holds, Mr. Thiele said.

“He thinks he’s playing Robin Hood” and taking from the wealthy and giving to poor, the legislator said. But in reality, areas like Shelter Island may have high property values, but residents don’t necessarily have high incomes and pay more money in taxes than some of the districts that are considered poor, he said.

Legislators from Long Island and the Hudson Valley — two areas similar in their needs — have signed a letter to the governor making the argument for the restoration of the high tax aid part of the formula.

Mr. Thiele also predicted another on-time budget that would mean the district would know the level of state aid by April 1, in time for it to be counted in the 2013-14 school year budget that will be submitted to local voters in May.


02/05/13 8:00am

JULIE LANE PHOTO | School Superintendent Michael Hynes has continued his call for a meeting with Governor Cuomo to protest proposed aid cuts.

In his ongoing effort to roll back a proposed 17.1 percent  cut in state aid to Shelter Island School Superintendent Michael Hynes has sent an invitation to Governor Andrew Cuomo for a meeting.

The invitation comes as no surprise. Dr. Hynes has spent the last week pleading his case to state legislators and said when he heard about the projected cut, he wanted a sit-down with  the governor.

While the governor’s overall budget proposal contained an approximate 3 percent increase in state aid, the additional money was projected to go to New York City and upstate districts, while cuts would affect many Long Island districts, including all on the East End.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.( I-Sag Harbor), responding to Dr. Hynes request and a letter from social studies teacher Brian Doelger, announced he objected to the projected cut.

Mr. Thiele planned to make the case to his legislative colleagues for restoration of high tax aid that helped balance a formula based on property values and incomes. The high tax aid that has been part of the formula in the past helps districts like Shelter Island where residents have a high cost of living, including higher taxes than are assessed to residents in many other parts of the state.