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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

Ever since the Garden City School District passed a $36.8 million School Investment Bond back in 2009, the upgrades throughout the district have been quite substantial. And while most of it has gone towards infrastructure, external visible improvements have rightfully been a source of pride for the board, which has taken to conducting tours at the different schools preceding the monthly public meetings that are normally held at Garden City High School. On the night of the school board meeting held on Tuesday, Oct. 14  at the Homestead Building, the school board, administration and Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen went on a guided tour of the building by Homestead Principal Dr. Suzanne Viscovich.

Feirsen described the tour as a new tradition started last year where administration travels around each of the district’s school buildings in the Fall to observe its current offerings and recent upgrades.

In an earlier column, Mayor John Watras shared some helpful tips on how to secure your property in preparation for a hurricane. The following are additional recommendations on what you can do now to be prepared in the event that a major storm hits Long Island.

As the storm approaches, customers should take the following steps to prepare for the arrival of either a hurricane or tropical storm:


Sports

Stretching tips for the high school athlete

Prior to the start of high school running season, Garden City’s Physical Therapy Options (PTO) had an opportunity to provide a presentation to members of Sacred Heart Academy’s cross country team. Team members gathered at Garden City’s New York Running Company to learn strategies and tips for a successful fall season.

PTO staff members Dr. Meghan Goetz, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and PTO Aide Mike Murphy discussed the importance of stretching to prevent injury and provided strategies and tips for success for the high school runner.

The league started on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Garden City’s Tullamore Park. It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. A uniform shirt and soccer balls are provided. Cleats and soccer shorts are recommended and players must wear shin guards. Age groups range from pre-k through 12th grade. Garden City residents and non-Garden City residents are welcome. Middle school and high school age volunteers are needed. No soccer experience is necessary. If you have any other questions, please contact Andy Garger at ajgarger@verizon.net or 516-775-8058.

— Submitted by the Challenger Soccer League


Calendar

Garden City High School Homecoming

Saturday, October 25

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, October 27

A Map Of Artistic Inspiration

Saturday, November 1



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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