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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

School board shows off improvements at Stratford

This month’s Garden City Board of Education meeting saw a boost in attendance, and not just from district residents. This was the first board meeting to be held at Stratford School, so teachers and students there stopped by to show off the best it has to offer.

Leading the pack was school principal Eileen Vota, who gave the board a tour of the school before the meeting got underway. Along the way, highlights of the capital improvement project were pointed out, all a result of the 2009 School Investment Bond and Energy Performance Contract.

The Senior Advisory Committee is the Senior group that helps plan trips, parties, and programs for all seniors in cooperation with the recreation and parks department. It consists of: Kathy Auro, Richard Bankowsky, Evelyn Iagrossi, Joe Leto, Ellen Moynahan, and Gloria Weinrich. Please feel free to suggest trips to anyone on the committee.


Sports

Winter Swim Lesson Registration Announced

The Garden City Recreation Department will be conducting children’s swimming lessons for village residents at the Adelphi University swimming pool in Woodruff Hall on Saturday mornings. Your child must be six years of age by the start of the program to participate. This 10-week session will begin Saturday, Dec. 6. Classes are taught by Red Cross-certified instructors. The cost is $80. These classes are open to residents of the Incorporate Village of Garden City.

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.


Calendar

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, December 1

AARP Driver Safety Program

Tuesday, December 2

Here Comes Brother Sun

Friday, December 5



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