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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

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.

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.


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