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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Massachusetts Attorney General Edward Brooke became the first African American elected to the United States Senate since Reconstruction.

John Lennon met the woman who would become his wife, Yoko Ono, at London’s Indica Gallery.

Actor Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California.

Music lovers in the United States were listening to “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers while The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” was among the top five songs in the United Kingdom.

And on Shelter Island …

Taxation without representation

A column written by County Executive H. Lee Dennison 50 years ago complained about a tax paid by the county to support maintenance of Long Island Rail Road stations within the county.

That the county has no say in the operation owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about how money is spent or what amount it can be charged aggravated Mr. Dennison who said despite “vociferous but futile objections,” the county had no choice but to pay the bill for whatever the MTA assessed.

POSTSCRIPT: Fifty years later, Mr. Dennison might be surprised by the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax assessed on many businesses and self-employed individuals based on wages a company pays.

Now exempt are government agencies, school districts and libraries. But when the tax was first imposed, there were no such exemptions.

Wastewater district established

In November 1986 the Town Board formed a wastewater district to deal  with septic wastes at the town landfill that the State Department of Environmental Conservation said had to end.

To comply with the state order, the town had arranged to transport wastes to a Greenport plant, but to do so, it was necessary to establish a wastewater district that would then set regulations.

POSTSCRIPT: Thirty years is a long time and everything has changed regarding dealing with waste, according to Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr.

The town has no responsibility for handling such wastes that are now privately handled. The Greenport Scavenger Waste Plant closed years ago in a dispute between the Village and Southold over it not working correctly. There was finally a settlement between town and village and the plant site underwent decommissioning and then remediation of the land where it had stood.

Causeway project is back on

An often promised and long delayed project to shore up Ram Island’s Second Causeway was back on 20 years ago as the town came up with $168,000 as its share of the $1.6 million project. The Army Corps of Engineers was committed to pay $1.4 million while the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had promised $392,000.

POSTSCRIPT: The town has been reimbursed for more recent work on the causeway with plans for that money to be used for repaving projects. But that money, amounting to a reported $82,150, has yet to be transferred to a fund balance account where Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. could access it and schedule repaving work.

Big crowd turns out for public hearing on budget

Ten years ago, residents packed Town Hall for a public hearing on a $8.2 million budget proposal that would raise taxes 15 percent. They were no happier at the thought of decreasing the tax bite by moving money from fund balance accounts.

Town Board members, led by Supervisor Alfred Kilb Jr., fought for the budget, insisting it was needed to maintain services residents wanted. They also argued that the previous year’s budget, when Art Williams was supervisor, had been underfunded.

POSTSCRIPT: Taxpayers are looking at a spending increase on a proposed $10.77 million budget for 2017 of 5.7 percent.

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