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03/09/15 8:00am
Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters and concerned members of the public at a press conference on helicopter noise at Southold Town Hall Sunday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

VERA CHINESE PHOTO Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters and concerned members of the public at a press conference on helicopter noise at Southold Town Hall Sunday.  Third from left, Supervisor Jim Dougherty.

Congressman Lee Zeldin asked the Federal Aviation Administration to do its part in reducing helicopter noise on the East End before the busy summer season in a letter he sent last week.  (more…)

09/24/13 8:00am

COURTESY PHOTO | A worker testing for ticks in an open field last spring. Tests in June showed a spike in the tick population of 200 percent at Mashomack in one year.

In an effort to combat tick-borne illnesses, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) has introduced new legislation to step up pressure on Suffolk County Vector Control, which is in charge of controlling the spread of insect-borne diseases.

The proposed law would require Vector Control to submit an annual plan that indicates steps being taken to reduce the incidence of tick-borne illnesses — including work to be done, active measures being taken and an analysis to determine the effectiveness of the program.

The division has focused mainly on mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile.

Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty has repeatedly said the county should get involved since tick borne illnesses are a more serious public health crisis than mosquito borne illnesses.

Area hospitals reported a spike in tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease earlier this year. Nearly 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationally each year, while 1,000 cases of West Nile are reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lyme disease is now the most widespread tick-borne disease in the U.S., but cases are often under reported across the U.S., according to the CDC.

It is estimated only 10 percent of total cases nationally are reported, CDC officials said.

“Towns and villages are struggling to develop plans to respond to the growing Lyme disease cases,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “The county should be playing a leadership role in prevention.”

Because of redistricting, Mr. Schneiderman faces off this November against Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi, running on the Republican ticket, to represent Shelter Island in the county Legislature. According to Mr. Nuzzi, his opponent’s action is a case of better late than never.

“After [Mr. Schneiderman’s] 10 years in office, I’d say the idea was a good one,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “This should have been done a lot sooner. It makes sense from a regional perspective.”

Mr. Nuzzi and Mr. Schneiderman will square off for a debate October 12 at the library sponsored by the Reporter, The League of Women Voters and The Shelter Island Association.

County Legislator Al Krupski, a co-sponsor of the bill, called Lyme disease an epidemic on the East End.

“Most of us have been impacted in some way by tick-borne disease,” he said in a release. “Suffolk County needs to play an active role to control this growing health problem.”

Mr. Schneiderman said the county has, however, done a good job preventing West Nile.

While mosquito and bird samples have tested positive for the virus, no humans have tested positive for West Nile so far this year, according to the county health department officials.

11/08/12 9:12am

PETER BOODY FILE PHOTO | Town Board members, Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar and Town Hall staffer Kathy Sullivan (right) at a recent budget review session.

There were no public comments when the Town Board held a public hearing on its proposed 2013 budget Wednesday.

“For those who get battered in elections every two to four years,” commented Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty, “silence is golden.”

The Town Board appears likely to adopt the plan later this month. It calls for total spending of about $10.71 million, up $335,414 or about 3.2 percent from the $10.38 million budgeted for the current year.

The proposed budget carries a tax-rate hike of 3.9 percent, which nearly conforms to the state’s 2-percent cap on annual tax-rate hikes because of a credit the town is carrying forward from 2012, when its 1.1-percent rate hike was well under the state limit.

The 2013 spending plan, which the Town Board finalized last week but may continue to tweak, calls for raising $6,995,945 in property tax revenue, up 3.9 percent from the current year’s $6,735,220 tax levy, which carried a property tax rate of about $2.21 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The Town Board, which must adopt a final budget no later than November 20, is expected to cut about $7,400 from the proposal in order to reduce the tax levy below the state’s 2-percent limit on annual tax-rate hikes. Counting its credit for last year, the town’s tax levy limit under the 2-percent cap $6,988,464, according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty.

Other sources of revenue include $2,935,433 in various non-tax sources and $786,700 allocated from the annual fund balance or unspent revenues, which are expected to total about $3 million at the close of 2012. That figure is more than double the $340,000 allocated from the fund balance in 2012.

SOME EXPENSES

Townwide general fund spending for 2012 is proposed to rise 9.15 percent from $6,924,842 to $7,579,995, not including the minor cut the board is expected to make. The budget keeps the allocation for the town’s limited 4-poster program at $75,000 —  a plan to raise the allocation to more than $90,000 to expand the program was sidelined — and at last report it retained $7,500 for a new audio system for Channel 22 in the Town Hall board room.

Among the higher costs (some of them offset by spending cuts in other areas) that have been allocated in the 2013 spending plan:

• Employee retirement benefits, up $131,826 or 22.35 percent from $589,826 to $721,652.

• Public Safety, including police salaries, up 7.61 percent or about $118,000 from $1.549 million to $1.667.

• The new Length of Service Award Program for the town ambulance corps, up from nothing budgeted in 2012 — when the program was approved by voters — to $100,000 in 2013.

• Landfill operational costs, up $104,500 or 12.93 percent from $808,147 to $912,647.

• Social Security payments for employees, up 17 percent or $35,471 from $207,755 to $243,226.

• Debt service up 11.93 percent from $200,146 in 2012 to $224,042.

• The new town ambulance squad, acquired at the beginning of 2012 from the Red Cross, up 35.83 percent or $20,550 from $57,350 budgeted for 2012 to $77,900 for 2013.

• Nutrition Program, up 13.82 percent to $108,568

• Senior citizen services, up 15.42 percent to $73,369

• Silver Circle up 5.7 percent to $29,220

• Senior Center up 438 percent from $8,623 to $46,469, mostly due to the allocation for maintenance costs rising from $2,250 to $27,250

SALARIES

Most salary increases are limited to 2 percent except police, highway and CSEA union employees. Town Board members except for the supervisor are to receive a 2-percent raise from $35,005 to $35,705. The supervisor’s salary remains $70,000.

• The two town justices will receive 2 percent raises from $23,632 to $24,105.

• The highway superintendent salary is up 2 percent from $50,959 to $51,978, which does not include pay as public works commissioner.

• Assessors will get raises of just below 2 percent: head assessor Al Hammond’s salary will rise from $62,032 to $63,270 and the two part-time assessors will receive raises from $18,344 to $18,700.

• Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar’s salary, up 2 percent from $72,148 to $73,592

• Deputy Clerk Sharon Jacobs’ base salary will be up 8.75 percent from $29,605 to $32,197.

10/29/12 12:00pm

Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty sent the following letter to the editor of the Reporter midday on Monday:

To the Editor:

Thank you Shelter Islanders for your courage and determination in preparing for and coping with Sandy.

Your Town Emergency Preparedness Team and countless volunteers are working around the clock under Police Chief Jim Read to minimize the impact on all our residents and to restore your lives to normal as soon as possible.

Please remain patient and thank you.

10/23/12 8:06pm

PBB PHOTO | Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty at a recent Town Board meeting.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty announced Tuesday he had learned that he probably has non-Hodgins lymphoma and that he’d spent 12 hours at Eastern Long Island Hospital on Monday undergoing his first chemotherapy treatment.

He said the treatments were expected to go on for “a couple of months.”

The diagnosis came after he had taken routine tests at Lenox Hill Hospital ahead of a scheduled hernia operation, he explained during the Town Board work session Tuesday.  He was told to get a sigmoidoscopy because of something “suspicious,” he said.

“We make plans,” he said, “and God is in the bushes laughing.”

The disease is a cancer of the lymph nodes. The supervisor said tests of six of his lymph nodes showed no evidence of cancer but his doctor remained concerned.

“Anyway, I’m going to lose my hair at some point and I thought you’d like to know,” he said after noting that the utterly bald actor Yul Brynner had been voted “the sexiest man alive.”

Supervisor Dougherty gave the news as a “personal matter” during the “Around the Table” portion of the work session when each Town Board member offers updates on issues and topics in which they are involved.