The Suffolk County Legislature held committee meetings in Riverhead in May 2016 for the first time in more than a decade. File photo: Denise Civiletti

For the second and last time this year, Suffolk County legislative committees will convene in Riverhead next week in the run-up to a Riverhead general meeting on Sept. 7.

Here’s next week’s committee meeting schedule:

Monday, August 29

10 a.m.: Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee 
Items of note:
1703. Amending the Adopted 2016 Operating Budget to transfer funds from Fund 477 Water Quality Protection, amending the 2016 Capital Budget and Program, and appropriating funds in connection with a Living Shoreline Demonstration Project within the Town of Southold (CP 8710.417). (Co. Exec.)
1740. To appoint member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission (Rodney Anderson). (Co. Exec.)

12:30 p.m. Seniors and Consumer Protection Committee

2 p.m. Public Works, Transportation and Energy Committee
Items of note:
1465. Directing County participation in regulatory proceedings. (Krupski)
1668. Re-establishing the Tick Control Advisory Committee. (Fleming)
1688. Amending the 2016 Capital Budget and Program and appropriating funds in connection with Installation of Guide Rail and Safety Upgrades at Various Locations (CP 5180). (Fleming)

Tuesday, August 30

9:30 a.m. Veterans Committee

10:30 a.m. Budget and Finance Committee

12:30 p.m. Education and Human Services Committee
Agenda not available as of presstime

Wednesday, August 31

10 a.m. Operations, Personnel, Information Technology and Housing Committee
Items of note:
1750. Authorizing planning steps for implementation of Suffolk County Workforce Housing Program (Sandy Hollow Cove). (County Executive)
1751. Authorizing planning steps for implementation of Suffolk County Workforce Housing Program (Speonk Commons). (County Executive)
1761. A Local Law to Strengthen regulation of pet dealers and pet stores in Suffolk County. (Martinez) 2016_0831_operations_agenda

12:30 p.m. Parks and Recreation Committee
Items of note:
1371. Appropriating funds in connection with the Historic Restoration and Preservation Fund for the Cedar Island Lighthouse (CP 7510). (Fleming)
1689. Authorizing Navy SEAL Museum at West Sayville. (Lindsay) 2016_0831_parks_rec_agenda

2 p.m. Economic Development Committee
2016_0831_economic development

Thursday, September 1

9:30 a.m. Public Safety Committee
Items of note:
1493. A Local Law to improve Alarm System Registration requirements. (Browning)
1758. O A Local Law to Prohibit unregulated synthetic Opiods in Suffolk County. (Stern)
Agenda not available as of presstime

12:30 p.m. Ways and Means Committee
1566. A Charter Law establishing a Public Campaign Financing Law. (Calarco)
1660. Establishing a vibrant communities policy in Suffolk County. (Lindsay)
1622. A Local Law to cap tax map verification fees. (Lindsay)
Agenda not available as of presstime

2 p.m. Health Committee
Items of note:
1598. A Local Law to register retailers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in Suffolk County. (Cilmi)
1760. A Local Law to regulate animal rescue organizations operating in Suffolk County. (Martinez)
Agenda not available as of presstime

East End legislators pushed for change of venue

The legislature agreed to hold committee meetings on the East End for two cycles in 2016 on a pilot basis, after North Fork Legislator Al Krupski pushed for the change because of the great distance East End residents must travel to attend committee meetings in Hauppauge.

The legislature often handles issues important to the East End during its Riverhead general meetings — six of the legislature’s 15 regular meetings are scheduled to be held in Riverhead this year. But, Krupski says, much of the important work that gets done happens at the committee meetings. Legislative measures generally cannot be addressed by the full legislature unless they are first reviewed and passed by the relevant committees.

It’s a question of access to government, which is a key factor in a functioning democracy, Krupski said.

“Previously, some of my constituents would have to travel for 90 minutes and up to 60 miles in one direction to speak for three minutes in the committee setting,” Krupski said.

Krupski first attempted to have committee meetings held in Riverhead whenever the the full legislative body was set to have its general meeting here. But that plan failed to gather enough support on the 18-member legislature, on which the East End has only two representatives.

Legislators shot down the idea in April last year, citing cost concerns. Holding committee meetings in Riverhead for one week would cost the county about $2,000 in staff travel expenses, according to an analysis prepared by the legislature’s budget review office. Supporting committee meetings in Riverhead on a regular basis with six computers and six cubicles would cost $38,200, according to budget review office director Robert Lipp.

Pleas by Krupski and then-South Fork legislator Jay Schneiderman that the expense was justified — they cited the contributions of the East End to county property taxes (one-third) and the region’s role as an important economic engine for Suffolk — fell on deaf ears.

In January, Krupski got the legislature’s support to move two of the week-long committee sessions to Riverhead. Next week is the first of the two. The second week is scheduled to take place during the week of August 29 to September 2, in advance of the legislature’s Sept. 7 general meeting.

Krupski and South Fork Legislator Bridget Fleming are urging residents to take advantage of this opportunity to have input into the legislative process at the committee level.

The legislative committee meetings will be held at the Maxine Postal Legislative Auditorium at the Evans K. Griffing Building, 300 Center Drive in Riverside.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.