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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 Garden City Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 35th annual Fall Festival Street Fair set for Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Seventh Street. The chamber thanks the Garden City Hotel which will serve as the primary event sponsor.

JGS entertainment will return for the 16th year as master ceremonies providing music and vocals. There will be plenty of activities for the kids. Included will be the return of the two trackless trains carrying children 12 years of age and younger up and down Seventh Street sponsored by Coach Realtors and Garden City Teachers Association. There will be the traditional inflatable bouncy house sponsored by SMPL Technologies and the ever-popular money cube sponsored by Calogero’s and Leo’s. The Garden City Parks and Recreation Department will have giveaways and temporary tattoos.

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.


Sports

Reminder

With the fall sports season upon us, the department of recreation and parks would like to remind all residents that pets are not allowed in any neighborhood parks, Community Park, or St. Paul’s fields. Non compliance with this rule will result in the issuance of appearance tickets.

Register For The Online Registration Option

Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will offer the option of online registration with credit card payment beginning with its winter programs in early December.

In order for a family to use the online registration option, the family will first need to visit the recreation and parks office at 108 Rockaway Ave. to verify residency and their family information and receive their password.  A list of instructions as to how to use the website will be included.

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.


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
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