In a move to prevent East Hampton Town from controlling the East End debate over helicopter noise, Southold on Tuesday agreed to establish a new multi-town helicopter advisory committee to counterbalance one that East Hampton created and that, so far, no other East End town has joined.
East Hampton owns and operates the only municipal airport on the North or South forks.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said at a Town Board work session Tuesday that the new Southold committee “offers East Hampton a seat at the table but doesn’t allow East Hampton to control” the committee’s agenda. He said that East Hampton’s airport manager would be invited to serve as a representative.
East Hampton Town Board member Dominick Stanzione, who handles airport issues for the board there, raised hackles in Southold this winter when he complained to Mr. Russell that Southold’s representative on an ad hoc aviation committee was stepping on the toes of other members. Southold’s representative, pilot Joe Fischetti, was pushing for a South Shore route to and from East Hampton Airport in Wainscott to divert some traffic from the North Fork.
“We’re willing to take our share of the traffic, but most of the flights are going to three locations, which are all on the South Fork,” said Mr. Russell, referring to the county airport in Westhampton, a heliport on Dune Road in Southampton Village and East Hampton’s airport, which attracts the most helicopter traffic.
Speaking of Southold’s new committee, Mr. Russell said, “What this does is give everybody representation. … They cut everybody else out of the deal. We don’t want to cut everybody out.”
Mr. Russell said he believed Riverhead, Southampton and Shelter Island were willing to send representatives to the committee.
Councilman Al Krupski recommended at the work session that the East End Transportation Council, a regional group that is pushing for a network of light rail and bus service on the North and South forks, might be the ideal organization to speak as a regional voice on airport and aircraft noise issues.
“Why aren’t they interested? Now we have another subgroup of government to address only helicopters,” said Mr. Krupski.
Town planning director Heather Lanza said members of the East End Transportation Council (EETC) are expected to appear at the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association’s April meeting. Southold’s representatives in the association, she said, should try to convince the other supervisors and mayors to ask the EETC to look into the helicopter noise issue at that meeting.
This discussion comes one week after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer introduced an amendment to an FAA Reauthorization Bill that would force the FAA to adopt regulations to reduce helicopter noise within 12 months.
“Schumer basically punted to the FAA,” said Councilman Bill Ruland at Tuesday’s work session. “If nobody comes to them with dialogue, rest assured that they’re not going to do what you want them to do.”
Planning new website
Southold Town plans to issue a request for proposals to build a new town website that would be more visually appealing and easy to use than the current site.
Mr. Russell said at Tuesday’s work session that the town expects to spend between $15,000 and $17,000 to build a new website that could be updated by town employees and would be easier for the public to navigate.
The town’s current website, designed by North Fork Internet, is updated by its IT department, but Mr. Russell said he hoped some things on a new site could be updated by individual departments. As an example, he said, tax exemptions such as the senior STAR credit are frequently updated by New York State. He said that town employees should be able to provide the latest tables for calculating those credits via the town’s website.
Credit for Taxes
As of March 1, Southold Town is able to accept payment of taxes over the Internet using a credit card.
Residents can access their tax bills and the payment portal through a button on the home page of the town’s website, which directs them to http://egov.basny.com/southold/.
The online-only credit card service accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Users are charged an administrative fee of 2.45 percent of the amount of their tax bill, which goes directly to the company that processes the credit card payments. Visa debit card payments are subject to a flat fee of $3.95 instead of a percentage of the tax bill. Half-year tax payments are due on Jan. 10 and May 31.