A New York community that displayed American flags on utility poles to honor a fallen hero is outraged after the Long Island Power Authority sent them a bill - for using their poles.
"I was pretty shocked," said Peter Reich, a councilman in the Long Island community of Shelter Island. "It's the most ludicrous thing."
The flags were initially erected last year for the funeral of Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert. The Shelter Island native was killed while on active duty in Afghanistan. He sacrificed his own life to save his platoon and was posthumously award the Purple Heart for his actions.
Last week, Theinert's platoon gathered in Shelter Island for a reunion. To welcome the troops, the American Legion, along with the owner of the local hardware store, decided to once again line the parade route with American flags.
Local residents donated the $8,000 needed to purchase the flags and the town's superintendent of highways posted them on the utility poles. But someone from the power company reportedly saw a story about the flags in a local newspaper and informed town officials of the fee.
"This is done by the Legionnaires who have served the country for the right for us to display Old Glory and here the state wants to make a profit on it," Reich told Fox News Radio. "At some point common sense has to prevail with these people."
Mike Loriz, the commander of American Legion Post 281, said he, too, was disturbed by the fee.
"It seems like it's kind of crazy that state law requires that we pay five dollars to stick an American flag on a public utility phone pole for patriotic purposes," Loriz said.
The Long Island Power Authority provided a statement to Fox News Radio from Michael Hervey, the chief operating officer of the company.
"LIPA shares the same frustration and outrage as the public regarding the issue of the pole attachment fee," the statement read. "This matter must be addressed by the State legislature to amend the law that prohibits state authorities to give use of or dispose of their property for free. This law puts LIPA in an unfortunate predicament."
Last week, I offered to pay the fee myself to support the community and to honor Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert," the statement concluded.
However, Councilman Reich said that's not the point.
"It's not the fee," he said. "It's the principle of the thing. Getting that money out of us is going to be like getting blood out of a stone."
Flags were also posted on poles owned by Verizon. However, a spokesman for the company said it typically waives fees for commemorative ceremonies and "we intend on waiving it in this case."