04/07/11 11:27am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo.

As expected, lawmakers in Albany approved a 2011-12 New York State budget last Thursday, March 30, meeting the often-ignored April 1 deadline for the first time in five years.

The $132.5 billion state budget carries a 2 percent spending reduction from the previous year, something that has not been done since 1995.

The spending plan also closes a $10 billion budget gap without borrowing or raising taxes, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The governor released a statement announcing the budget’s passage.

“I have said that New York is at a crossroads — one road leading to further dysfunction and decline, the other towards fiscal responsibility and government efficiency,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “I believe this budget puts us on the right path.”

The budget also calls for the elimination of 3,700 prison beds and cuts of $170 million in funding to the state Office of Court Administration, although it restores $86 million to the State University of New York and the City University of New York.

Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders have also agreed to restore some $272 million of the originally proposed $1.5 billion reduction in aid to New York schools. Approximately $45 million was restored to Long Island schools.

“I fully expect that the dollars restored to the education budget will be put into the classroom,” said state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). “This is the time to start redesigning the education process so that taxpayers are getting the maximum investment for their dollars.”

The Shelter Island School will receive $438,390 in state aid, down 7.9 percent from the 2010-2011 budget.

The $272 million in state education aid includes restoration of funding for schools for the blind and deaf and summer school special education.

Also included in the budget are restorations approved by the environment, agriculture and housing subcommittee that Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) said will strengthen Long Island’s wine and farm industries.

Some $500,000 will be restored to the Integrated Pest Management Program and $713,000 to the Wine and Grape Foundation.

“The state must continue to provide the support and resources necessary to ensure [agriculture] can continue to thrive as an engine of economic growth and job creation,” Mr. Losquadro said.

Mr. Cuomo thanked both Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for working together in crafting the budget.

“This budget makes tough choices, which is what you sent me to Albany to do,” he said.


01/12/11 3:36pm

Levy launches YouTube anti-violence program

Suffolk Executive Steve Levy has launched a four-point anti-violence program geared toward youths, including new law enforcement efforts to discourage the proliferation of delinquent, violent and even criminal activities online.

The program is intended to discourage cyber violence and to monitor unlawful activity posted on YouTube , and to establish a cntralized resource for school administrators via the Suffolk County Family Violence Prevention Task Force.

“We believe that a multi-faceted approach, in tandem with hands-on support from school administrators and community leaders, can slowly change the beliefs and attitudes of what our teens view as acceptable behaviors and beliefs towards violence,” Mr. Levy said in a statement the press. “This approach will include a focus on YouTube, where hostility and aggression are inappropriately being glorified.”

Members of the public and school officials are being encouraged to forward links of potentially inappropriately violent video clips to [email protected]ny.gov and to anonymously report violent incidents by text messaging C-R-I-M-E-S (274-637).

Local fire department info available online

The Southold Town Fire Chief’s Council has established a website at southoldtownchiefs.com to provide a centralized listing of events and training sessions for local fire departments. Fire departments whose information will appear on the site are Southold, Cutchogue, Mattituck, Greenport, East Marion, Orient, Shelter Island, Plum Island and Fishers Island.

Listings will include fundraisers open to the general public, CPR and EMS training  and boating classes. It will also include articles for the general public and links to individual department websites.

12/23/10 12:51am

Romaine responds to heroin map issues

The Reporter’s page 1 story on the lack of East End heroin arrest data on the county’s drug map caught the attention of Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine.

“Clearly, the lack of standards for the electronic reporting of heroin and drug arrests prevent the index from presenting a true picture of drug arrests on the East End,” he said in an email to the Reporter. In the upcoming year, the legislator said that he and his staff will be working with Gary Quinn, commissioner of Information Technology, to establish acceptable standards for reporting heroin and drug arrests countywide, within the jurisdictional limits of the county’s authority.

Dougherty, Hogue take leadership roles

Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty has been re-elected to chair the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association again for 2011, his second year at the post.

The organization meets with state assemblymen and county representatives to address issues common to the five towns and 10 villages of the East End. The meetings are closed to the press.

Mayor Tim Hogue of Dering Harbor has taken on a similar leadership role. He is currently serving his first year as president of the Suffolk County Village Officials Organization, during which he hopes to strengthen the link between the villages and the county.

Peconic Bay Broadcasting closes deal for WLIU

The Southampton-based National Public Radio affiliate 88.3 FM is officially in the hands of the nonprofit Peconic Public Broadcasting group after the $2.4 million purchase was finalized earlier this month, according to a joint statement from PPB and Long Island University, which owned the station for more than 20 years.

“We wish Peconic Broadcasting the very best of luck in continuing the mission that Long Island University instituted in bringing quality, community-based public radio to Long Island’s East End, southern Connecticut and Westchester,” said LIU’s president, David Steinberg.

The new call letters for the station, which operated as WLIU for many years, is WPPB.

“PPB will maintain the same high level of quality production and programming the community has come to expect, all with added local emphasis,” said Station Manager Wally Smith. “Our existence is the result of the collective effort of volunteers, listeners, donors and a dedicated professional staff, each of whom worked tirelessly to secure this valuable resource.”


Property taxes due January 10

Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter reminded all property owners last week that if you have not received your 2010-2011 Real Property Tax Statement, you are still responsible for its payment. If a Shelter Island property owner has not received a tax bill, he or she should contact Nancy Kotula, the town’s Receiver of Taxes, at 749-3338. All tax bills were mailed by December 15.

First-half tax is due without interest by January 10, 2011, and the second-half is due by May 31. If the first-half tax is not paid by January 10, the Receiver of Taxes will add interest at the rate of 1 percent per month on the balance of the first-half owed through May 31st. After May 31st, the total balance of tax owed is turned over to the county treasurer for collection. In addition to the flat amount of the tax due, the law requires that the treasurer collect a 5-percent penalty together with interest at the rate of 1 percent per month calculated from February 1st.

Guardsmen to help track Santa’s sleigh

New York Air National Guardsmen from the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) will once again play a key role Friday night as the North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa Claus and his reindeer around the world.

“NORAD has supported Santa Claus’ Christmas Eve operations for more than 50 years and we are always delighted to participate,” said Colonel John Bartholf, EADS commander. “I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with this critical mission.”

EADS’ Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC) will monitor Santa constantly as he travels across the eastern U.S. delivering toys and gifts.

Major Fred Janack, the Christmas Eve mission control commander, said a radar monitor mission will be conducted on Santa’s sleigh, providing continuous location updates. In addition, EADS-controlled fighter aircraft will be prepared to assist, and in case of poor flying weather, EADS will provide the jolly old elf with navigation and guidance.

Children — and grown-ups — interested in watching Santa’s progress on December 24 can sign onto the NORAD Tracks Santa website at noradsanta.org.

11/24/10 3:39am

COURTESY SHELTER ISLAND LIBRARY | Library trustees Linda Kofmehl (far left) and Jo-Ann Robotti (far right) join Director Denise DiPaolo as she receives a proclamation from Legislator Ed Romaine at a reception on November 20.

Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine celebrated with the Board  of  Trustees  of  the  Shelter  Island  Public Library and donors working to renovate the lower level of the library at a special reception on November 20.

Legislator  Romaine  complimented  the  Shelter  Island    Library  for  being  part  of  the  “American  Dream,”  offering  “opportunity,  education,  self-help  and  lifelong  learning”  to  the  entire  community  of  Shelter  Island  since  1886.

To  date,  almost  $50,000  has been contributed by top donors, called the Leadership Circle. The  goal  is to raise $575,000,  which  will  cover  costs  associated  with  refitting  the  entire  lower  level  to  accommodate  more  programming  space,  quiet  study  space,  shelving  space  and  possibly  a  small  gallery  area.

Pledges  of  $90,000  have  also  been  received,  which  will  be  paid  when  the  halfway  mark  to  the  goal  is  reached.

Library  Director  Denise  DiPaolo  thanked Mr. Romaine for his support and that of the many donors working to improve public access to the library.

For more information, visit  the  library  or  the  library’s  website  shelterislandpubliclibrary.org.

11/24/10 3:36am

Suffolk County residents will pay more to use county parks next year, but county property taxes will hold the line in 2011 for the seventh consecutive year.

The Suffolk County Legislature voted 12-5 Tuesday to override the bulk of County Executive Steve Levy’s vetoes to its spending plan, restoring about $800,000 to the county through park fee increases and pushing the start date of the police academy’s six-month program from March to September.

But the Legislature failed to override Mr. Levy’s veto to fund the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank. The nursing home costs the county about $4 million a year, officials said.

Through the Legislature’s approval, Mr. Levy’s proposed $2.7 billion spending plan still includes $12 million in projected revenue from the sale of county-owned land — an industrial-zoned 95-acre section in Yaphank where the controversial Legacy Village project would be built.

Last month, county Legislators Kate Browning and Ed Romaine protested the projected revenue and called it “phantom revenue.”

Mr. Romaine said he’s committed to revisit the budget — particularly to reverse the park fee hikes.

“In these tough economic times, raising park fees is counter-intuitive,” Mr. Romaine said.