Tag Archive | "south shore"

East End Digest: December 17 – December 24

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eliqgMainQuilt

Quilts Donated to Southampton Hospital Maternity Center

Southampton Hospital recently received a very generous donation of more than 45 quilts and wall hangings from the Eastern Long Island Quilters Guild based in Southold. The group of approximately 300 quilters from all over the East End donates their hand-made items to the Kathleen D. Allen Maternity Center at Southampton Hospital every December. Additionally, the group makes wheelchair and baby-sized quilts. Fabric donations are always welcome. For more information, call 631-723-0244 or visit their website at www.ELIQG.com.

Above: (l to r) Betty Commander, RN; Jean Bernhardt; Kathleen Pierce and Theresa Kumbatovich, LPN

Peconic Bay
CPF Rev’s Stay Steady

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., reported last week that revenues for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) have increased by 8.6% percent for October 2009 as compared to the same month in 2008. For September 2009, the CPF generated $4.21 million. In 2008, the CPF generated $3.88 million for the same month. September marks the 5th consecutive month of improving CPF revenue. For the year, the CPF has generated $30 million for 2009 to date, compared with $50.4 million in 2008, or a 40.5 percent decline.
While revenues for September 2009 increased compared with a year ago, the number of transactions has declined by 7% for September 2009. For the first nine months of 2008 there were 5,444 transactions. For the same period in 2009 there were 4150, or a 23.8% decline for the year.
“The most recent CPF numbers clearly demonstrate two things. First, because of the national economic recession, the annual revenue expected to be generated for 2009 will be in the range of $36-38 million which will be the lowest year since 2001. However, for the last five (5) months the trend has improved with the highest monthly revenues of the year, said Thiele.

Southampton Town
Virtual Tax Office

With the first installment of property taxes due by January 10, Southampton Town residents have an easier way to pay this year, says a release from supervisor Linda Kabot’s office. Taking advantage of a series of technological improvements, tax receiver Theresa Kiernan reported that all tax bills can now be viewed, printed or paid online. To do so, residents can log on to www.southamptontownny.gov and click the link for “Online Services” at the left of the screen.

“It’s a great way to receive proof of payment right on the spot,” said Kiernan. “There’s no longer any risk of it getting lost in the mail. And since there’s no need to fax copies of bills, it cuts down on paperwork at both ends.”

Among the new methods of payment are electronic checks via the automated clearinghouse (ACH) network, with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards accepted over the internet. A one dollar fee will be charged for each ACH transaction and a two percent fee will be applied for credit card processing.

With more than 50,000 taxable parcels in the Town of Southampton, Kiernan’s office collects over $300 million annually in school, county and town taxes. Over 65 percent of bills are paid directly to the town by individuals, with the remaining 35 coming from banks for taxes included in mortgage payments.

“People should try it out,” advised Kiernan. “No one likes paying taxes, so the more convenient we can make it, the better.”

Southampton Town
GOP Screens Sag Harbor Dentist

The Southampton Town Republican Committee screened candidates for a special election on Thursday evening, December 3. The group was in session for several hours at the Villa Tuscano Restaurant in Hampton Bays as the committee heard from potential office seekers hailing from nearly every corner of the town.

The evening began with Supervisor Linda Kabot thanking committee members and their alternates for their support over the years and particularly during the 2009 campaign. She also stated she will not seek the Republican nomination for Town Council.
In addition to three other candidates, the committee interviewed Dr. Tod Granger, who has a dental practice in Noyac and lives in Sag Harbor Village After retiring from 24 years of military service and attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Granger has restarted his dentist practice in the Sag Harbor area. Born in Southampton Hospital and raised in Sag Harbor, he served on the Village Board of Trustees from 1988-1992, as well as on the boards of other town and community organizations.

The committee said they will likely make a decision by the second week of January at a special convention.

Southampton Town

Mortgage Tax Revenue

The East End Supervisors and Mayors Association unanimously approved a resolution on Monday, December 7, by Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot petitioning Suffolk County to distribute mortgage tax revenues owed to local municipalities earlier and more frequently, said a press release distributed by Kabot’s office. The release stated that Kabot has also called upon County Executive Steve Levy to move the initiative forward.

The release continued, saying under the present system, Suffolk County collects mortgage tax revenues and disburses them to its ten townships under state law. However, funds are allocated biannually with a six month lag. In contrast, proceeds from the two percent real estate transfer tax are distributed to each East End town for their Community Preservation Funds on a monthly basis. Kabot said she would like to see the mortgage revenues distributed in a similar fashion, or at least quarterly.

“Since towns rely on mortgage tax revenues to support certain operating expenses, the ability to receive the proceeds on a timelier basis is critical to cash flow needs – particularly during tight budgetary times,” said Kabot.

The Southampton Supervisor also noted how the financial pressures an economic downturn exerts on a municipality can be considerable, especially if it is a local government that is dependent on revenues that are volatile and based on real estate and construction activities. Most of the past 10 years brought in over $12 million annually for Southampton, but the recent slump in home and land sales have put the number around $5.5 million for 2009 and an anticipated $6 million for 2010.

“Towns and villages are finding it more difficult to meet expenses according to their adopted spending plans,” said Kabot. “Like many households, they are living ‘paycheck-to-paycheck’ and this plan would let the payments come sooner and with more accurate predictions regarding the amounts for the following month.”

South Shore
Disaster Area

New York Congressman Tim Bishop sent a letter to New York State Governor David Paterson earlier this month urging him to request a federal disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for areas struck by recent storm occurrences along the south shore of Long Island. Such actions would allow federal disaster aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas that have experienced significant shore erosion, navigation degradation or asset damage, said a press release published by Bishop’s office.
Estimates of the damages to Suffolk County communities from the recent effects of Tropical Storm Ida exceed $26 million, continued the release.
“It is critical for the Governor to issue a disaster declaration as soon as possible for the south shore of Long Island to ensure our communities have adequate protection against future storms and that our maritime industries do not face further economic burden,” said Bishop. “Following the Governor’s decision, I will be coordinating a meeting between federal, state and local agencies to determine the most effective steps forward toward protecting the resources and assets of south shore communities.”
To view a copy of the letter visit http://timbishop.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=39&sectiontree=3,39&itemid=1615.

East End
Helicopter Noise

During a tele-conference held on Friday, December 11, Congressman Tim Bishop reported that he has found a pre-existing law authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to dictate the flight routes of helicopter pilots. Working with Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Bishop presented to FAA representatives a 1989 decision which Bishop says allows the FAA to regulate helicopter traffic. In order to reduce noise pollution caused by helicopters on the North and South Shore of Long Island, Congressman Bishop said a voluntary flight route, keeping the helicopters over water as long as possible, was unsuccessful due to noncompliance.
“The FAA are on board in terms of working with us in bringing this long festering problem [to a close],” said Congressman Bishop.

Kids can Earn College Credits at Pierson

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A few weeks ago, Jeff Nichols, the principal of Pierson High School, gave a presentation at a board of education meeting about Advanced Placement (AP) courses that the school currently offers. The presentation outlined how the students in the district compare with others taking similar courses around the world.
At this week’s board of education meeting, school superintendent Dr. John Gratto announced that he and Nichols are looking to get district students college credit for enrolling and passing the AP courses.
“We have been talking about the ways we could offer these courses to have dual credit,” Gratto said referring not only to high school, but college credit as well. “Jeff [Nichols] has been working with the Suffolk County Community College.”
Currently, Suffolk County Community College offers courses similar to those offered at Pierson such as European History, Physics and US Government.
The students would still be required to take a mandated AP exam, but at the same time, the students would be able to earn three college credits per course.
With the number of AP classes currently in place, the students could take 10 additional courses at Pierson and conceivably earn 30 college credits even before graduating from Pierson, according to Nichols.
At present, Pierson students can earn college credits for AP Math and AP Spanish through Long Island University, which gives the students college credit for these courses which are similar to courses at a college level.
The administrators are now waiting to hear back from Suffolk County Community College to see how the AP courses can be modified to fit the requirements.

Also at Monday’s board of education meeting, the board unanimously adopted a new policy on extra-curricular trips, which had been the topic of much discussion in prior meetings. Some residents and board members have, in past weeks, expressed concern for the students left behind as well as the educational purpose of the trips.
On Monday, Tin Wilcoxen, school board president Walter Wilcoxen’s significant other, said that she is in favor of extra-circular trips and believes these trips are a great asset to the curriculum.
The new policy outlines that a single teacher may only be allowed to take part in one extra-curricular trip per school year and that each teacher attending a field trip must submit a lesson plan to the principal a week in advance.
Also, the new policy will now require teachers to give a follow-up report on the trip to the principal, superintendent or board of education.

Purchasing Consortium Dead

In other news, at Monday’s meeting, Gratto announced that his idea for a South Shore Purchasing Consortium (SSPC) was “defunct.” The SSPC was an attempt to combine the resources of schools on the East End and have local businesses bid for providing things like fuel oil and paper. After a meeting with BOCES’ (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) district superintendent, Gary Bixhorn, Gratto found that it would be better to let BOCES work on getting better pricing for items while keeping the focus on schools on the South Fork. Gratto said that BOCES is better equipped with staff and information to put out request for bids for lower pricing.
According to Gratto, BOCES will hold informational meetings for local businesses to learn how the bidding process works.
“Now we have the opportunity to get bids on more products,” Gratto announced.
Additional items BOCES will focus on will include paint and supplies, fine and recycled paper, stationery, custodial supplies, fence equipment and art and craft supplies.
Business Manager of the Sag Harbor School District, Len Bernard, said at the meeting that BOCES will not charge a separate fee for this opportunity.
“We will get products at a lower cost and educate local bidders,” he said.
Gratto said on Monday that the South Shore Purchasing Consortium idea could be resurrected in the spring, if need be.

Schools Eye Joining Forces to Save Money

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In an effort to save money, the Sag Harbor School district, backed by superintendent Dr. John Gratto, has pushed other districts on the East End to band together to get cheaper rates for major high priority items within the school districts. The Sag Harbor School District approved a resolution at their last board of education meeting to join the South Shore Purchasing Consortium, which is the name for the group of schools that Gratto hopes will join together to seek out better pricing on certain items needed for the districts.

In mid-September, Gratto emailed superintendents of nine area schools to ask for a meeting where they could discuss ideas about how schools could work together to purchase goods or services at a lower cost, with the intent on spending more money on education and less on overhead.

On September 23, that meeting was held amongst business officials and superintendents from Amagansett, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Hampton Bays, Montauk, Shelter Island, Southampton, Tuckahoe and Springs.

Gratto said in that email that it may be more cost-effective if these schools formed a consortium to get lower prices than the New York State bid, or the Suffolk County bid because vendors who would deliver to the South Fork would have lower transportation costs compared with those on the western side of Suffolk County. Gratto also said he thought he may attract some more local bidders if the schools limited the geographic area of the contract.

Gratto’s intent was to have each business official coordinate the cooperative bidding for one high-priority item. For example, the Sag Harbor School District’s Business Manager, Len Bernard will be looking into paper products while the Hampton Bays School District will explore what rates the consortium might be able to secure for oil.

“On just oil, paper and fuel if we had a 10 percent reduction, we could save $10,000,” and that, according to Gratto, is a conservative figure.

“There is no downside for the other districts,” Gratto said about joining the consortium.

Superintendent for the Hampton Bays School District, Joanne Loewenthal said that she believes this is a great concept. Her business administrator Larry Luce is working on fuel oil to see what prices he may be able to get for the South Fork schools.

Superintendent of the East Hampton School district, Raymond Gualtieri, said his district might be interested in the idea. He said that if cheaper prices on such things like fuel oil could be obtained, the district would be likely to get involved. The East Hampton School District’s Business Administrator Isabel Madison said that no one in her district was assigned a specific high-priority item, but when the data is received and if it beats other pricing available, East Hampton will most likely buy through that.

Phil Kenter, the Business Administrator of the Bridgehampton School District, said that he believes that conceptually the consortium is a good idea, but he wouldn’t want to see the efforts of BOCES duplicated.

Gary Bixhorn superintendent for BOCES said that Eastern Suffolk BOCES has been doing cooperative purchasing since 1981.

“We have a pretty extensive cooperative program, we bid on a large number of items and a number of districts in Suffolk County participate in that program,” Bixhorn said on Wednesday. He said that BOCES always tries to encourage cooperation and shared services and there is a tremendous focus on this right now because of the financial constraints the country is feeling as a whole, which has reflected back to the schools.

According to Bixhorn, BOCES uses an e-procurement system, an electronic purchasing system, which will allow a district to search for the best pricing for a particular supply, material or service.

Bixhorn said that next week his group will meet in Bridgehampton to talk to the districts in the consortium to make sure that the schools are aware of the available resources and ensure that they are taking advantage of the opportunities that are out there.

But Bixhorn said, “If we think there is another way to do it – we are interested in working with the other districts to get better rates.”