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Four Percent Budget Hike Likely

State mandates add to financial difficulties

The Garden City school board has proposed a budget that would increases taxes by nearly 4 percent for the 2013-14 year.

The board presented its first recommendations for the proposed budget, which is $107.9 million, an increase of $3.7 million from last year. The proposed budget carries a tax increase of 3.86 percent.

“This is not a budget that’s bursting with optimism,” said superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen. “It’s a budget that reflects the tough time that we’re in. It’s a very difficult road for us to walk.”

The district must stay under a 2 percent tax levy cap.

District voters must approve, by 60 percent, an increase above the 2 percent levy.  

The district estimates tax certiorari liabilities will result in a budget increase of approximately $1.4 million that would equate to a 1.48 percent tax increase for residents.

“Although there’s been no formal shifting of function, there has been a shifting of liability,” Dr. Feirsen said. “It used to be in Nassau County that if the county made a mistake in the assessment, they would pay the penalty. The county legislature and executive voided that county guarantee and shifted that responsibility of tax certioraris to school districts. It’s something we clearly did not want and something we did not have time to save for.”

Tax certioraris, along with pensions for teachers and employees, are the biggest budget drivers. Together, they add over $3.5 million to the budget.

Another unexpected state mandated budget increase that is posing problems for the district is a move to online state testing. The state is asking that districts acquire the technology necessary so that students in third to eighth grades will be able to take their standardized tests online by 2015. Not only would this move be logistically complicated, as the district would have to acquire more computers, work out test security issues and standardizing the devices for tests, but it would also be expensive.

“They all require wireless which is a tremendous investment and upgrading our hardware. We have to be concerned with security protocols because there are so many more devices. We’ll have to hire additional support staff. So this all requires a significant commitment of district funds over a number of years,” the superintendent  said.

It’s expected that the large majority of the budget’s revenue, around 85 percent, will come from property taxes. Garden City is expecting to receive little help from state or federal funding. It anticipates receiving only about $4.7 million of state aid, which would amount for less than 5 percent of the budget. According to Albert Chase, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and finance, state aid is based on an aid ratio that takes into account relative wealth.

“The average wealth in the state, taking income and property value, is computed and the average is stated at 1.0. Garden City is at 2.5, which means we are two and a half times wealthier than the average district in New York State,” Chase said. “Districts who have a lower average will receive more money from the state, districts who have a higher average receive less.”   

While the state budget allows for $125 million in competitive grants, Garden City is not a strong contender to receive these as opposed to higher needs districts. The proposed state budget freezes the state grant Foundation Aid and reduced High Tax Aid, a form of assistance mean specifically for Long Island schools.

A vote on the budget by residents is scheduled for May 21. The next board of education budget work session is on Tuesday, Feb. 26 .

News

April 19 fundraiser to be

held for baby with rare disease

Tom Onorato, the nephew and office manager of Dr. Joseph Onorato Garden City practice All Island Dermatology Plastic Surgery & Laser Center, recently celebrated the birth of a baby boy with his wife Melissa. Both were thrilled when Thomas Kevin Onorato came into the world on September 10, 2013. Despite being born five weeks early, baby Thomas managed to surprise his parents with his indomitable spirit and was sent home with a clean bill of health. A mere four days later began the fight for Thomas’ life.

Budget adjustments, staff reductions recommended

The Garden City Board of Education will prepare to adopt next year’s school budget in a couple of weeks. Before they do, they’ll have to go over a few changes.

At the board’s public work session held at the high school on Wednesday, April 9, school superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen recommended a few adjustments, part of the annual balancing act that is the school budget.


Sports

Easter Egg Hunt For Pre-K To Grade 5

The Garden City Recreation Department is once again sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at Community Park’s fields. This Year Three hunt will be held at 10 a.m. sharp with three age divisions: preschool to kindergarten, grades 1 and 2; and grades 3 to 5.

Special eggs will be stuffed and hidden for all divisions. Each hunt will also feature a grand prize (an Easter basket filled with goodies) which will go to the youngster who finds the egg marked “#1 Lucky Egg.” For further information about the hunt, please call the recreation department at 516-465-4075.

Commitment at Kellenberg

Garden City residents continue to excel while participating in the athletic program over at Uniondale’s Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, coaches of Kellenberg sports pick one player from their squad who has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the team through their hard work at practice and in competition.

The Village of Garden City has a long history of residents who've excelled both on the academic and athletic side of the ledger at Kellenberg. This time around, seniors Kelly O’Donnell (varsity cheerleading), Stacy Madelmayer (varsity girls basketball) and Bryan Salecker (swimming and diving team) have all been awarded the Commitment Award for their outstanding efforts, devotion, hard work and commitment to their respective teams.


Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: In Transition 2.0

Thursday, April 17

School Budget Meeting

Wednesday, April 23

Judi Mark One-woman Show At Library

Thursday, April 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