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Suozzi Redux?

Plans still undisclosed for school tax certiorari

The probability of former Nassau County Supervisor Tom Suozzi getting his old job back from Edward Mangano will hinge on how he handles the bane of any Nassau resident’s existence—taxes.

During a visit last week to the Anton Community Newspapers’ office in Mineola – days after he announced his decision to run - Suozzi was pointed in his criticism of the county’s desire to pass the County Guarantee Reform Act, which makes schools, villages and towns pay their share of tax certiorari refunds for incorrect assessments.

“What the county did this year is that they settled every SCAR (Small Claims Assessment Review) case no matter what,” he said. “We would have liked to have settled everyone too but you can’t, because some of them are bogus claims. What [this administration] did was the politically popular thing to do and make all these people happy by saying they settled all [these cases] quickly. They actually gave away more assessments on these guys but put more [financial] burdens on other people.”

If tax cap was last year’s buzz word, then expect tax certiorari to be the phrase that will be a constant, particularly as school districts like Garden City, are rolling their sleeves up to grapple with the 2013-14 budget. With some help from the Garden City Teachers Association re-negotiating its contract last year, the school board was able to apply approximately $675,000 savings towards staying under the 2 percent tax cap. But should the County Guarantee Reform Act pass muster in the courts, where’s it currently in litigation, the Garden City school district’s ability to stay below the two percent property tax cap will be severely hindered. It’s a major concern for Dr. Robert Feirsen, the district’s school superintendent.

“One of the most significant [expenses] for our school district [are these] tax certiorari lawsuits that could be millions of dollars,” explained Feirsen. “We’ve never had to contend with that before, because when the county acknowledged that they made the error, they would pay the damages. Now the county shifted that to the school districts and potentially millions of dollars to Garden City.”

The current handling of tax certiorari lawsuits has certainly caught Suozzi’s attention, given his view on how unfair the end result is to school districts around the county. It’s an issue he’s given a lot of thought to, although he wasn’t quite ready to offer any solutions just yet.

“I don’t think we should be doing it that way. It’s still the same problem, we’re just having [these lawsuits] paid by the school districts instead of being paid by the county and just shifting the burden,” he exclaimed. “I’m going to come out with a more detailed assessment plan during the course of the campaign. I have some very interesting ideas that I’ve been noodling with some smart people but I’m not prepared to discuss it yet.”

Complicating matters more is the fact that the added incurred expense from tax certiorari lawsuits is not exempt from the 2 percent cap Garden City and all other school districts are expected to stay below. It’s an understandable source of frustration and consternation for Dr. Feirsen, particularly given how inequitable feels the situation is.

“If we’re sitting on a few million bucks in terms of tax refunds that we are liable for, that basically eats up all of the allowable increases [within the cap] and then some,” he said. “[It] makes any increase within the tax levy cap ridiculous because we now have all these millions of dollars of lawsuits that we’re responsible for, and we have nothing to do with assessments.”

News

Preparedness is the best remedy for Ebola

Winthrop University Hospital hosted a presentation on the current Ebola epidemic, at the Garden City Library, on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sponsored by the village’s Property Owners’ Associations, John F. Collins, president and CEO of Winthrop University Hospital and Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, Winthrop’s Chief Medical Officer provided an overview of the disease along with an update on Winthrop’s preparedness plan.

Dr. Ammazzalorso began his presentation heeding that despite the waning in the press, the disease is still with us. He provided both historical and current day perspectives regarding the epidemic, advising that Ebola is not a new disease. The medical community has been aware of the disease for at least 40 years. Originating in the Congo, Ebola is a zoonosis a disease which has its reservoir in animals and was known for small sporadic outbreaks associated with people who handled bats and rodents or those who consumed bush meat. The current outbreak originated in West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. He noted in Africa that more than 45,000 people have died from the disease.

Multiple options help village avoid problems

While parking around LIRR train stations is typically a challenge, even on a regular work day, it’s not necessarily the case for Garden City residents, who have five departure points to choose from. The stations—Nassau Boulevard, Garden City, Stewart Manor, Country Life Press and the south side of Merillon Avenue—provide a grand total of 866 spots. (See page 13 sidebar for lot-by-lot breakdown). It’s a luxury many municipalities don’t have, particularly during the holidays. Annual permits run $150 for residents and $300 for non-residents and while people who call Garden City can use any of these five stations, non-residents are restricted to using the 70 spots allocated for their use over at the Stewart Manor station.

LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said that ridership between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by at least 10 percent; last year it was by 12 percent. Though the MTA is adding more trains to the schedule, that doesn’t ease the parking situation, which is operated not by the LIRR, but by individual municipalities in each town.


Sports

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes began the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes begin the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, please visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave. Space is limited so please register early.


Calendar

Sultans of String to play

Friday, November 21

Garden City Chamber Music Society Performance

Sunday, November 23

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, November 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com