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Discord on the board


Islip Town Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr. described as "premature" an announcement that the town would begin charging for use of its pump-out boat.

Cochrane said Wednesday that the board is considering a fee to offset the roughly $20,000 annual cost of operating the boat -- a service resurrected this week with federal grant money. But he said the board, which town officials said is required to vote on the fee, had not made a final decision.

Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt's announcement on Tuesday that the town would charge $5 per pump-out this summer "surprised" the board, Cochrane said, adding that her comments "lit up the phones," among board members.

"When Trish makes a statement like that -- or anybody -- you have to make sure discussions we're having are vetted," he said. "And that was not the case with her making this announcement."

Bergin Weichbrodt, who is liaison to Islip's Department of Environmental Control, predicted the board will approve the fee. "It was a topic that was discussed many, many times. It was certainly discussed and vetted."

It was not clear Wednesday when the board would vote.

Supervisor Tom Croci and Councilman Anthony S. Senft Jr. did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Islip would be the first Long Island municipality to charge for pump-out boat service, a move some boaters worry could trigger mariners to illegally dump waste.

Cochrane said the board was awaiting a briefing from town officials on how the fee would impact its ability to get grant funding to operate the boat. The town recently received $18,831 in federal grants to operate this summer.

Commissioner Eric Hofmeister said the fee would not affect the grant. Councilman Steven J. Flotteron, who is running for re-election in November alongside Bergin Weichbrodt, backed her. "It's something the councilwoman's been working on," he said. "I think it's a very reasonable fee."