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Greenport Village may charge North Ferry travelers fee for road repairs

North Ferry traffic

Greenport Village is looking to establish a new revenue stream for road repairs by charging drivers traveling to the North Ferry.

The Village Board unanimously approved a resolution at Monday’s meeting to have village attorney Joe Prokop research the legality of “various potential revenue or reimbursement sources regarding the area of the Third Street ferry terminal.”

Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said charging a fee may be necessary since ferry traffic has put a strain on village roads.

“It’s something that’s been talked about since the [election] campaign,” he said after the meeting. “Charging a dollar per car at North Ferry and finding out if that’s legal or not. It’s just seeing if we can generate any revenue from that to help pay for the road repairs that need to be done.”

Former Village Board Trustee Bill Swiskey has brought up the subject several times, including when he ran for trustee earlier this year. He estimates the village could receive about $100,000 per year through the fee and use the money for road repairs on the streets that handle ferry traffic.

[Related: Southold Transportation Commission hoping to fix North Ferry traffic]

Mr. Hubbard said the village doesn’t have any estimates of how much could be generated from the proposed fee.

“It’s been discussed numerous times over the past few months and now Joe [Prokop] is going to give us a written report as to whether we can do it or not,” the mayor said.

Fares charged by North Ferry and South Ferry, both of which dock at Shelter Island, must be approved by the Suffolk County Legislature.

Bridg Hunt, the general manager of North Ferry, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday night.

The current fares charged by North Ferry is $11 one way and $16 for a same day return trip. Each passenger is charged an additional $2, up to a max of three passengers.

In 2009, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a Connecticut court ruling that the Bridgeport Port Authority was unconstitutionally collecting taxes from the ferry company and passengers on the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company.

In that ruling, the court found “a charge designed only to make the user of state-provided facilities pay a reasonable fee to help defray the costs of their construction and maintenance may constitutionally be imposed, so long as the toll is based on some fair approximation of use or privilege for use and is neither discriminatory against interstate commerce nor excessive in comparison with the governmental benefit conferred.”

However, it ruled that the fee charged by the Bridgeport Port Authority was excessive.

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