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Garden City Life - Schools

Reversal Of Fortunes?

Board considers creating

tax certiorari reserve fund

The Garden City school board held a budget session on Tuesday, March 5, where a presentation on the district’s tax certiorari was held by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen.

The meeting’s topic came as a result of the Nassau County Appellate Court’s decision to reverse Nassau County’s tax certiorari shift of liability for settlements to schools districts.

The superintendent’s original 2013-14 budget recommendations to the board included $1,396,000 to be placed in a tax certiorari reserve fund for settlement reimbursements.  However, as the reversal may be appealed by the county executive and legislature, the board is currently in the process of formulating the budget under the uncertainty of the future of the tax certiorari ruling.

The board is also questioning whether, under the circumstances, the school district has the authority to establish a tax certiorari reserve fund.  They are currently prioritizing a list of programs and needs to restore if the board reduced the budget by the monies originally slated for the tax certiorari reserve fund.

One of the questions Superintendent Feirsen raised regarding their decision is if the Appellate Division’s ruling stands - at least for the time being — $1,396,000 in the budget no longer needs to be dedicated to tax certiorari settlements.

“The budget could be lowered by $1,396,000 with a corresponding lowering of the tax rate,” Feirsen said.

According to the school board, the money initially devoted to tax certiorari could be redirected to supporting programs and other district needs, including class size, curricular clubs, summer school/AIS, a replacement of a facilities department truck and BOCES career and technical education programs.

“Amounts to be added to other budget codes could range from $1.00 to $1,396,000,” Dr. Feirsen said.

The district has announced a $107,930,252 proposed overall budget for 2013-14, and for the budget to increase by $3,714,724, or 3.56 percent.  The projected tax levy increase with STAR is 3.86 percent, and the maximum allowable tax levy is 3.91 percent.

The board tabled their discussion on reserves until their next budget session on March 19. They had discussed reserves in previous meetings, as well as non-instructional expenses.