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Jan 9, 2018 12:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Trustees Approve Budget With Some Large Increases In Fees, Permit Costs

Southampton Town Trustee Scott Horowitz said fees need to be increased to protect access to the beaches and the waterways. GREG WEHNER
Jan 11, 2018 1:25 PM

The Southampton Town Trustees adopted their 2018 fee schedule last week, though it was not unanimous, after listening to concerns from a few residents about new increases in various fees levied by the Trustees, which they blame in part on the cost of various legal fights.

While Town Trustee President Ed Warner, Trustee Scott Horowitz and Trustee Bruce Stafford voted to adopt the fee schedule, Trustee Bill Pell voted against the measure and Trustee Ann Welker recused herself.

The new fee schedule significantly hikes the cost of shellfish permits for non-residents and includes a host of new fees, which drew fire from those who attended the meeting on Wednesday, January 3.

Francis Adamczeski, a duck hunter and a regular at local beaches, told the Trustees he was upset with the increase in fees. “I understand you need revenue, but find it some other way,” he told the board.

Residents specifically targeted the fact that the Trustees sought to double the costs of resident 4x4 beach driving permits and resident boat ramp fees, both from $20 to $40. But after listening to the complaints, the Trustees voted to change both the 4x4 and boat ramp fees to $30 instead of $40—still an increase of 50 percent.

Mr. Horowitz said the increases were necessary to help protect access to the beaches and waterways. In the past, the Trustees had sold sand to bring in money, but sand sales stopped a few years ago, he said, and in order to hire law firms to fight beach access battles in court, the Trustees need to increase the fees.

Mr. Horowitz explained that there also are rising costs of enforcing the town’s rules by utilizing bay constables, maintaining Trustee roads, keeping Mecox Bay healthy, and ensuring that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife guidelines to protect the endangered piping plover birds are followed along the shoreline.

“It’s a tough exercise, but unfortunately it’s one we have to go through,” Mr. Horowitz told Mr. Adamczeski. “We’re not looking to get into anyone’s pockets.”

Mr. Adamczeski said he also was concerned that the Trustees were going to approve fee increases without a public hearing. “The public needs to know,” he said. “The board is supposed to be for the freeholders.”

He noted that the Dongan Patent of 1686 was set up to allow the freeholders of Southampton to fish and hunt without a fee.

“Things have changed, Franny,” Mr. Stafford told Mr. Adamczeski.

“The cost of freedom is not free,” Mr. Horowitz added.

Along with increases to 4x4 and boat ramp fees, the Trustees’ adopted fee schedule has increases in other areas, including the cost of impounding a duck blind that breaks loose, which jumps from $250 to $1,000. Temporary resident shellfish licenses are also going up, with the cost of 15-day permits going from $10 to $100, 30-day permits from $20 to $175, and 60-day permits going from $40 to $300.

Mr. Pell said he understands the need for the increased revenue, but noted that it is important not to squeeze pennies from those who survive off the waters.

East Quogue resident Dan McNamara, a member of the town’s Waterfowl Advisory Committee, also voiced concerns over the increases.

“Just remember the little guys,” Mr. McNamara told the board, explaining that for some people, even $20 is a significant amount. “It’s the little guys you really represent.”

Mr. Horowitz countered that the board represents not just “the little guys” but also those town residents who are wealthy, work hard and pay their fair share of taxes.

A copy of the fee schedule will be available later this week on the Southampton Town Trustees’ website at southamptontownny.gov/487/town-trustees.

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What Horowitz failed to mention is the fact that if the Trustees are sued the Town’s insurance picks up the tab, only when our Trustees initiate a suit are they paying the freight. How’s the tax line coming along?
By bigfresh (3567), north sea on Jan 9, 18 2:10 PM
Bay constables are paid by the Town Police. The ramps are the worst, except for a few. They are putting clams into the bays for the commercial guys to pick.
What ever happened to FH?
By knitter (1303), Southampton on Jan 9, 18 2:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Our Trustees are an incredibly important part of what makes our Town so special and deserve our support. They can not do their job without sufficient funds so these increases are necessary.
By bigfresh (3567), north sea on Jan 10, 18 9:30 AM
Trustees Horrorwitz, Warner and Stafford are pushing for higher fees and Bill Pell is the only one voting against it. Wait, what? I thought the Republicans were supposed to be the Low Taxes Small Government people. I guess those three are just out to bleed us dry.
By Gillnetter (97), Hampton Bays on Jan 12, 18 1:09 PM
The trustees have built a paper nightmare in the office. They will need another clerk just to handle duck blinds and deer permits.
Notorized forms for a DUCK BLIND??? What happened to our Donagen Patent??? Fought the state for fishing license, raises fees on others.
What happened to the SAND MONIES???
By knitter (1303), Southampton on Jan 14, 18 10:18 AM
Drive in movies, Coopers Beach Southampton Village Monday nights