SHELTER ISLAND - People on the East End are outraged that LIPA is charging Shelter Island for every American flag hung on its utility poles.

The flags are part of a tribute to Lt. Joseph Theinert, who was killed last June in Afghanistan.

"The town already paid," says Maria Maggenti, of Shelter Island. "It lost one of its own. How much more can they ask for?"

Local residents are wondering why Verizon, which owns some of the poles, has agreed to waive its fee, while LIPA did not.

The power utility says it's required to charge a fee because of the wording of a state law.

"The unintended consequences of this law put us in an unfortunate predicament," LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey said in a statement today. "Last week, I offered to pay the fee myself."

However, state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a statement that LIPA over-interprets the Public Authorities Law, "which was never meant to be applied to patriotic displays."

LIPA says the fee was originally $5 per pole per year, but that fee has been prorated to a $1.25 per pole for 90 days.