Letters to the Editor

07/28/2011 8:12 AM |


IDA tax abatements raise your taxes

I recently attended a Riverhead Industrial Development Agency hearing regarding the issuance of a tax abatement for Peconic Management Group. This group of bariatric and pulmonary doctors is building new office space on Roanoke Avenue. The abatement would include a 50 percent reduction on property taxes, as well as eliminating sales tax and mortgage recording tax. That particular piece of property would be assessed at approximately $40,000. That means that in the first year of the abatement, Peconic Management Group would pay only $20,000 in taxes, and each year that amount would increase over a 10-year period until reaching full value.
The granting of this abatement will cost Riverhead School District approximately $12,000 in revenue. Each tax abatement granted by the IDA increases homeowners’ property tax because the school district is forced to raise the tax levy to make up the difference. That may not sound like a lot of money for this one instance; however, if the IDA continues to grant such abatements, it will have a negative impact on the school district,
In a recent conversation with Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, he indicated he was interested in only granting tax abatements for development on Main Street and EPCAL. However, yesterday I received another notice from the IDA regarding an Aug. 1 hearing on an abatement for Hampton Jitney, located on Edwards Avenue in Calverton.
I, along with the entire Board of Education and Central Administration, are in favor of development in Riverhead Town. Each new business increases our tax base, but I can’t help but think this is a case of, “Just ask for an abatement, and Riverhead Town will give it to you.”
Here are some of the businesses that were granted tax abatements in the past: John Wesley Village, three doctors’ offices on Commerce Avenue behind Panera Bread, FedEx in Calverton, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Atlantis, and now the new Hyatt Hotel, as well as the Riverhead Building Supply building at EPCAL.
Are we to believe that none of those businesses would have come to Riverhead without the IDA abatement? In the words of state Sen. Ken LaValle, “It’s $10,000 here, $15,000 there, $20,000 here, and pretty soon we are talking about real money!”

Ann Cotten-DeGrasse

president, Riverhead school board


How about a vote of confidence?

The Riverhead school board is trying again. After the overwhelming defeat of the $122 million bond in 2010, the board is now putting $85 million in construction bonds up for vote in 2011. When you couple the district’s $110 million budget with $85 million in borrowing you get almost $200 million in expenditures for this school year alone. Using the district’s projections of $185 per year for the average homeowner, if approved the 20-year bonds will cost $4,000 per household over the life of the bonds.
Let us have an addendum to the referendum. How about a vote of confidence for the school board members? If the bond fails and the confidence vote fails, let them all resign. When you have a school board president who is a former Riverhead teachers union president, it’s like having Willie Sutton guarding the bank vault. The planned voting at various schools rather than at one polling place is a sham to confuse the voters, especially the senior citizens.
Personally, I would walk to Alaska to vote ‘no’ and ‘no’ again.

Richard Findley


People are people

I think Troy’s article is misleading and illogical (“We’re so gay, and we’re better off,” July 21). Frankly, good people are good people whatever their sexual orientation. I have wonderful friends I care about; whatever their sexual orientation is doesn’t matter. I am a better person morally and spiritually for knowing them.

Warren McKnight


Problems are real

The North Fork Environmental Council board of directors read last week’s letter by County Executive Levy with great sadness. Mr Levy missed the point, as well as some groups that are allies, not enemies.
The Towns of Southold and Riverhead should be applauded for their success in land preservation, both on their own and, where needed, with the help of the county. No environmental organization could argue with the efforts and results. Of course, it doesn’t mean that more couldn’t and shouldn’t be done.
Dick Amper has been an important figure in the environmental movement on Long Island. While his methods may rub some people the wrong way, it doesn’t mean that his message and goals concerning declining water quality should be ignored.
Just because a person or group doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Mr Levy every time doesn’t mean that they’re wrong or don’t have something important to say. We need to put aside personal differences and work together for the greater good, and not just for the next election but for the next generation.
Scientific reports from many groups show that our water quality is on the decline and steps have to be taken to protect not only our drinking water, but also the waters of the creeks, bays and the Sound which surround us. New York State recognizes this problem and issued its MS4 storm water guidelines for towns as well as private property owners.
The Suffolk County health department recognizes the need to bring septic systems into the 21st century in order to protect our waters and is actively looking into these systems.
Why can’t Mr. Levy recognize this same scientific data and the need to take steps to protect our waters?
Let’s stop politicking, cut the rhetoric and end the distrust. Let’s start coming together to discuss and address the problems which are real and endanger our health and wellbeing. Yes, there may be different and better ways to address these problems. So let’s sit together and discuss them rather than ignore them and hope that they go away.
The toxic plume at EPCAL, the former Grumman property, has proven that threats to our waters just don’t fade away.

Bill Toedter

president, NFEC


Some suggestions for Steve Levy

A week after the Pine Barrens Society issued its annual report on the slow pace of land preservation on Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy held a news conference to say he was doing just fine.
He didn’t refute the facts in our report. He couldn’t dispute that the county, which once preserved as many as 2,200 acres per year, is now averaging just 660 acres per year on Mr. Levy’s watch.
Instead, he said his low numbers resulted from all of the large parcels having been previously purchased, then promptly vetoed a 415-acre proposed acquisition in the Southampton Pine Barrens and suggested the parcel be developed with nearly 100 homes instead.
He implied that three environmental groups represented at his news conference applauded his open space efforts and that our Pine Barrens Society was in a minority of one in criticizing his open space record. Those three groups tell me they attended a news conference intended to extol the virtues of land preservation and not to praise Mr. Levy’s record. Other respected groups who are critical of the Levy record were, not surprisingly, not invited to the news conference.
Finally, Mr. Levy meandered onto the subject of campaign contributions, suggesting coziness between developers and our Pine Barrens Society. Our group is the most vocal of all on the subject of over-development on Long Island. We’ve never endorsed a development project, ever.
Mr. Levy, on the other hand, is leaving office and is forfeiting $4 million in campaign contributions in the wake of an investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney into his campaign finances. He ought to tell Long Islanders what he did to deserve this punishment and not imply that others are engaged in the same mischief. Then, he ought to go out and buy the land Suffolk residents have put up the money to preserve, and then leave public office.

Richard Amper

executive director,

L.I. Pine Barrens Society


Painful to watch

The current squabbling in Washington would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
The sight and sound of the babbling Congress makes you wonder is this uproar that sounds like kindergarten when the teacher suddenly left the room really my America?
We have Mitch McConnell pushing a bill with no chance of passing, simply designed to embarrass the Democrats. We have Grover Norquist getting signatures from the tea partiers to swear “no tax increases.”
We have some Republicans pushing a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. This, economists say, would be deadly in that it ties the government’s hands when the inevitable recession hits.
In the background we have some logical discussions going on between a handful of Republicans and Democrats and the president that makes meaningful spending cuts and meaningful revenue increases. But the very sense of this sets off the chorus of “no tax increases” from the tea party.
While General Electric paid no taxes in 2010 and Warren Buffet is in a lower tax bracket than his employees and the big oil companies still get subsidies, the “tax increases” segment is totally justified. The effect of tax loopholes, augmented by clever, legally supported cheating, needs to be eliminated.
With August 2 looming, and serious action needed, the teacher needs to come back to the classroom and make the troublemakers drop their crayons and stand in the corner.
America, the former democratic beacon of the world, is well on the way to idiotocracy. It’s painful and embarrassing to watch.

Howard Meinke


‘I’m Pat, fly me!’

A couple of weeks ago I got a professionally prepared advertisement from a helicopter company in New York City offering service to and from East Hampton.
I thought at first I received the ad by mistake, but when I learned others on the North Fork were also sent it I figured the company was just trying to break everybody’s shoes.
Mildly irritated, I decided to take them up on their offer. I inquired about leasing one of their helicopters for a sunny weekend afternoon and fly from Westhampton over the ocean at an altitude of 2,500 feet to the East Hampton town line. We would then change course to fly directly above land at less than 2,500 feet (way less) to cover the entire oceanfront of East Hampton up past the East Hampton airport, cross over to the Gardiners Bay side repeating the process so most of the town’s perimeter is covered, and continue this pattern for five or six hours.
I have sent two requests for information about this but unfortunately have not received an answer. However, if I do hear from them is there anyone who would like to accompany me?
I guarantee a splendid time for all except for the people on the ground.

Patrick Lohn


A heartfelt thank-you

I would like to take a moment and thank everyone who came out on such a steamy night Friday to support Buttercup and the Suffolk County SPCA. I would also like to thank Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard and Horse Rescue for allowing the use of their property and for their full support of the cause. Thank you to all the generous merchants who donated to the chinese auction, as well as the merchants who went the extra mile and donated food for the event. Last but not least, thank you to my volunteers, as I could have not done it without them. The event was a success because many people came together for one cause: the animals. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Nicole Buckner