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County Legislature approves North Ferry rate hike

COURTESY PHOTO A 130-foot boat under construction in Maine this past winter, was launched a week ago.

North Ferry Company has won approval from the Suffolk County Legislature for its proposed rate increase — the first in five years, according to Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac).

The new rates are to go into effect by the weekend, according to Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Stella Lagudis.

The proposed rate increase, North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt told the Town Board, will cost cash-paying customers $1 more one way and $2 more round trip. Passenger fares on all trips would remain the same.

For residents, there would be a 30-cent increase for each round trip and 20 cents for one way.

Island and non-resident commuters would pay $2 more each week.

Approval came from the County Legislature after it determined:

• The company proposes no new fare categories.

• Increased costs will be met through tourist fares and commercial truck traffic in order to support resident travel.

The new boat, The Menhaden, was launched last Friday at 11:15 a.m. by Washburn & Doughty in East Boothbay , Maine, where it was built. It’s expected to join Mashomack, Menantic and Manhansett early this summer.

The smaller Islander, which underwent repairs this spring, will be taken out of service when the new boat arrives.  Islander could carry 12 to 13 vehicles while the new 130-foot boat can accommodate 25 vehicles.

The raise in rates will also provide money for new infrastructure needs, including raising ramps by a foot to deal with rising sea levels.

Prior to the County Legislature action, the rate request was presented at a public hearing at a Shelter Island Town Board work session. Then, the Legislative Office of Budget Review studied the request and passed its recommendations to the full County Legislature, which held public hearings in both Riverhead and Hauppauge prior to approving the budget.

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