New York State Senator John Flanagan, chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, and Senator Jack M. Martins, chair of the Standing Committee on Local Government, co-sponsored a hearing on Feb. 17 in Mineola to accumulate best practices and suggestions to take back to Albany with regard to reducing Property Taxes in New York. Some of the pressures on local government and school district budgets are directly tied to mandated costs. It follows that reduction in property taxes is linked to unfunded Mandate Relief, especially in light of the 2 percent tax cap approved by the New York State Senate in January.The recent Senate approval of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tax cap that calls for capping the yearly growth of school and local taxes at 2 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less, was the impetus for the hearing.
Everyone in Garden City has heard and read quite a bit over the last several years about the looming destruction of St. Paul’s School. Built in 1883 by the widow of Alexander Turney Stewart, the former boys’ school is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and yet is in grave danger of being demolished. It is clear that the proposed demolition has more to do with a lack of consensus among the village’s residents on what exactly to do with this landmark than a concerted resolve to destroy the remarkable Victorian Gothic masterpiece. At what may very well be the eleventh hour, it is perhaps worthwhile to consider what Garden City would be like without St. Paul’s.
It was nearly midnight before the Garden City Board of Education wrapped up their general meeting and second school budget work session last Wednesday. The audience, mostly comprised of parents and residents, listened as the board moved through a full agenda of items. Among the most important topics were the mandate relief initiative led by School Board Trustees Angela Heineman and Laura Hastings, the superintendent’s second installment of budget recommendations and the surprise resignation of School Board Trustee Laura Brown.
The meeting began with an update from Trustees Angela Heineman and Laura Hastings who talked about their meeting with a coalition of Nassau County schools known as the Long Island Educational Advocacy District. The purpose of the group is to advocate legislation for property tax reform. “We feel in our collective group, assuming the tax levy cap is an inevitability, the way to make property tax relief truly meaningful is to have some sort of mandate reform go along with that. With that end, we put together a letter that each of the participating districts is going to send to Governor Cuomo,” she explained.
In a little more than three months, the village will finally unveil its upgraded veterans’ memorial to honor the many brave men and women who have served our country. Last week, the village board unanimously approved expenditures not to exceed $20,000 for the complete installation of a new and improved monument in time for Memorial Day.
Early in 2010, under the leadership of Committee Chair and Village Board Trustee Dennis Donnelly and a committee of residents and trustees, a plan was designed to upgrade, rehabilitate and relocate the current veterans’ memorial.
Vietnam veteran and Garden City resident Cyril Smith originally proposed the idea in January of 2010 as a way to pay homage to those veterans who lost their lives in wartime. The new memorial will be placed opposite the current WWII War Memorial on Seventh Street in the village.
Spring hasn’t arrived yet, but the school budget season has. Superintendent of Garden City Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen held the first in a series of school budget presentations for the 2011/12 academic year. The proposal includes an overall budget of $101,117,058, with a budget-to-budget increase of $3,128,568 or 3.19 percent. The projected tax levy increase (with STAR) is 2.71 percent.
This year’s overview and revenue projections were clearly influenced by the current fiscal climate, NYS projections for state aid, pension, health insurance and other mandates, according to Dr. Feirsen. “This is called the superintendent’s budget because it hasn’t been touched by the board of education. It is really what I have prepared for the board. There are citizens’ comments that we encourage and respond to over the next several weeks. We encourage participation from organized parent groups in the community and, ultimately the board will adopt a budget that will be presented to the voters,” Feirsen said.
It’s official. In a vote of 5 to 3, the Final Environmental Impact Statement for St. Paul’s was accepted by the board of trustees at the first board meeting of February. Mayor Rothschild, Trustees Nicholas Episcopia, Dennis Donnelly, Laurence Quinn, and Brian Daughney voted in favor of acceptance, and Deputy Mayor Donald Brudie, Trustees John Watras and Andrew Cavanaugh voted against.
After a long period of public hearings and commentary on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement this fall, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was prepared over the past few months by the law firm Sive, Paget & Risel. In December, Village Counsel Gerard Fishberg explained that the preparation of the document was a fairly large job, which he said involved putting together all the public comments that have been made over the entire process, as well as providing responses to those comments.
On Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2011, Punxsutawney Phil was raised from his burrow on his 125th birthday. After surveying his surroundings carefully, the furry weather forecaster found there was no shadow around and his handlers proclaimed that ‘spring is near.’ With record levels of snow accumulations this month, storm cleanups have already spent approximately 85 percent of the Village of Garden City’s snow budget.
Village Auditor Jim Olivo commented on the ongoing snow woes at the most recent village board meeting. “We had a storm last week that had about $19,000 worth of overtime attached to it. It’s clear that this winter has not been kind and we are contingent at this point for overtime money. So if we have anymore snow, we’ll be coming to the board for overtime,” Olivo said. “Let’s hope the groundhog was right,” he said, adding there has been some issues discussed of where to move the snow.
‘You have breast cancer.’ Upon hearing those four small words, your life is indelibly about to change forever. For the past 30 years, women and men across Long Island diagnosed with breast cancer have called the Adelphi NY State Breast Cancer Hotline for much-needed help, emotional support and critical information.
Founded in 1980, the Adelphi NY State Breast cancer program was the first in New York State to exclusively address the psychosocial issues associated with breast cancer. Since its inception, the hotline’s public relations consultant, Lyn Dobrin, has been working for the organization based in Garden City.
On Saturday, Jan. 22, various village departments presented their five-year Capital Improvement Plans at Village Hall. The meeting featured a broad overview of the village departments’ capital needs for fiscal years ending 2012 through 2016.
The village’s five-year capital plan has been in place for the last 29 years and is used to help identify essential projects and also equipment acquisitions. To give a historical perspective, capital plans have ranged anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the total village budget. Capital plans include debt service and the proposed plan, if enacted, would represent 5.5 percent of the expected budget. Last fiscal year, this area comprised 5.25 percent of the total $53,641,341.
During the capital plan presentation, Village Auditor Jim Olivo discussed the important aspects of the 2011/12 budget. “We do have a $200,000 increase in debt service for the projects that we’ve put on last year. We’ll also see a debt service increase next year for the same reason. We are not suggesting that any debt be issued for this capital plan. This is very much of a fund-it-as-you-go capital plan,” Olivo said.
As snow gently fell over the Town of Hempstead, a firestorm of epic proportions erupted during the town board meeting at the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion on Tuesday, Jan. 25. In a united front, animal activists appeared in droves to address the board about the alleged poor conditions at Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh.
In December of 2010, Anton Newspapers reported shelter volunteers Diane Madden of East Meadow, Lucille DeFina of Merrick, and Frances Lucivero-Pelletier of Levittown alleged that they were banned from the shelter since late October of 2010 after making claims of animal abuse and neglect at the shelter. After the Dec. 7, 2010, town board meeting, the three women filed a lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead, Kate Murray, Bruce Hallbert, Jill Schuster, Patricia Horan, Vincent Napoli, Joanne Miranda, Russel Davis, and Ashley Sheridan.
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