Hands off home rule
To the Editor:
The governor’s tax cap proposals — rejected by both the Assembly and Senate leadership — are a Trojan Horse disguising a direct assault on home rule. Nicols Patent and several hundred years of effective local governance notwithstanding, the New York Times states the governor “has cited the number of local governments as a reason property taxes are so high” and that “the large number of overlapping local governments was a problem that needed immediate attention” and “I’m not going to let them run from it.”
This from the Albany that drowns us in unfunded mandates. Expensive MS4 mandates come down from Albany without a dime to pay for them. Literally hundreds of Albany-created building code requirements are promulgated, leaving the local governments to find the money and the manpower to enforce them. Our very expensive pensions for town employees are managed from Albany.
Shelter Island property taxes are among the lowest — if not the lowest — in New York State. This was accomplished by our local government, beginning long before I came on the scene, and continuing through today. Abolishing home rule and transferring governance to a bloated remote bureaucracy in Albany will only result in high taxes and less effective governance.
Home rule works. Local elected officials are the ones most responsive to the voters and most easily replaced in the event of community dissatisfaction with taxes or performance. I vigorously opposed the propositions on the ballot several years ago to extend supervisor and superintendent of highway terms from two years to four years for the same reason — the ability for voters to relatively quickly and easily (Please don’t get any ideas!) replace government leadership when dissatisfied.
We must continue to follow the calls from Albany for government consolidation closely. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island
To the Editor:
How disappointing to read in the Reporter that our town budget is in a “very grave” situation and that the town is considering selling donated land as a source of revenue to ameliorate this problem.
First, let’s discuss how this situation came about. It seems that the Town Board voted to approve an expenditure for a transport vehicle without truly knowing if there would be a grant to pay for this. On top of that, whoever is responsible for delays and change orders for the Second Causeway was not on top of this issue, resulting in a bill of an additional $112,000.
Second, let’s discuss how these issues can be resolved. The Town Board should not approve any expenditures in the future for which they are not certain the funding will be there. The Town Board should not sell land that was donated by the Peconic Land Trust (presumably to preserve undeveloped space) or bought by the town to preserve open space since this will cause a backlash concerning future donations of this kind.
The Town Board could cut back on funds planned for the 4-poster program until this financial crisis is resolved. The Town Board could approve the new proposed cell tower by the Potato Barn. This would bring in immediate revenue of $100,000 and an additional monthly revenue of $8,000. It would also ensure safety for our fire department and those residents on Hay Beach whose cell service is currently poor and who would have a real problem when electric power goes down, as it does frequently.
Finally, the Town Board could dip into the Reserve Fund Balance, which is money raised through taxes but not spent and held for emergency situations. If this situation is “very grave,” that should constitute a temporary emergency situation.
It is time for our elected officials to remedy their errors without simply adding to the tax burden of our residents.
Supervisor Dougherty said on Monday that the town won’t sell the targeted properties. — Ed.
To the Editor:
I am concerned that the Town Board is considering the sale of two pieces of town land to cover what the supervisor characterized as a “very grave” financial situation. That the board would even consider such an option sends the wrong message about the value of open space.
A prime objective of the Comprehensive Plan is to preserve the rural character of our Island by protecting open space, and the town has only a few parcels of unencumbered land.
Until now Shelter Island has been the leader in preserving open space. We should keep it that way.
Former Shelter Island Town Supervisor
Undermining noble efforts
To the Editor:
Your readers have been “mistreated” to a horrible barrage of disinformation regarding Lyme disease and the efficacy of the 4-poster system on Shelter Island. A clan of naysayers and obstructionists, hiding behind an environmental label, have attempted to undermine with numerous missives directed at the Reporter, this town’s noble efforts to provide for the health and safety of its residents.
They demonstrate in their writings that they possess no appreciable knowledge of Lyme infections, its associated diseases, not to mention the suffering of those crippled by Lyme. In fact in one of their communications, Lyme was callously trivalized. Lyme has become a serious pestilence, not only here on the East End but world-wide. These are proven scientific facts. Recently I spoke to two residents here; one had Lyme for 20 years, the other for 40 years. Their suffering was incredible. Under certain circumstances, Lyme can be fatal. Lyme today is not fully curable. However it is preventable!
That’s what the 4-poster system is all about. This town government is to be applauded, not chided for bringing about an effective system to reduce the massive tick populations on Shelter Island. It has been scientifically proven to be effective and it is not “junk science” as it was pejoratively referred to in a recent letter to the Reporter. Isn’t it strange how the complainers have joined the debt scold crowd agitating about the cost of this very worthy effort. Of course, the wealth of benefits conferred by this system to our residents and visitors, enabling them to use our woods and waters, reducing their vulnerability of contracting a life-debilitating illness, is conveniently ignored.
My thanks to Mike Scheibel, chair of the Deer & Tick Committee, for his letter to the Reporter. A few kind words for the opposition are also in order. Yes, blood-sucking ticks not only victimize deer and humans but also birds, squirrels, raccoons and especially mice. Please join us in constructively solving these problems. Your positive input, I am sure, would be deeply appreciated. And to the Reporter, please reprint Karl Grossman’s excellent article of October 6, 2011. It is even more relevant now than it was then!
HENRY J. AMANN