Question: Nassau County is currently being sued by 41 school districts claiming to be negatively affected by the County Executive and Legislature’s majority caucus’ decision to remove the county’s “guarantee” on tax certs. If you were already a member of the Legislature when this came before that body, would you have voted for or against the idea? How do you answer schools, towns and villages who complain that local taxes must now go up in order to pay to refund assessment mistakes that take place at the county level? Do you consider this a true savings to the taxpayers in the 18th LD?
Answer: The elimination of the Nassau County Guarantee ends inequity in tax certiorari refunds; that is, the Glen Cove City School District will no longer be the only school district in Nassau County to have its residents subsidize the refunds of others without receiving reciprocal recompense.
Nassau County residents were split on County Executive Edward P. Mangano’s voted-down referendum on the borrowing of $400 million to try to keep the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum and revitalize the “Hub” area.
If the referendum passed, the next step would have been for the Legislature to vote on the proposal. This topic, therefore, is a good way to gauge which candidate represents your viewpoint as they vie for the 18th Legislative District - which includes Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, Bayville, Locust Valley, Brookville, Glen Head, Greenvale and Jericho - Robert Germino (R) and Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D).
“The development of the Hub is critically important to the Nassau County economy,” Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said at a July 21 press conference. “It currently supports hundreds of jobs and has the potential to create thousands of construction jobs and permanent jobs as well as increase tax revenues.”
Maragos said that he conducted a review to determine the economic feasibility of the current proposal to develop the Nassau Hub and retain the NY Islanders hockey team. At this point in time, he said, a comprehensive analysis cannot be completed as the lease agreement with the Islanders is still under negotiation and several significant terms have yet to be resolved such as revenue sharing, revenue guarantees, cost overrun protections and the Islanders’ commitment to remain in Nassau County.
The director of John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden in Mill Neck was semi-reluctant to get into the paper. Stephen Morrell explained that while the beautiful four-acre garden does need patrons, what makes it special is the very private experience they have there. Trying to even find the garden off the road, one could easily pass right by the nondescript wood fence and never know the inspiring beauty waiting quietly on the other side.
”We’ve waited so long to be legally married in New York State, we just wanted to be the first ones out of the gate,” stated Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, who married his partner of nine years, Jim Stevenson-Mathews, at a service held at the City of Glen Cove Clerk’s office early Sunday morning, July 24, the first day that gay and lesbian couples could legally marry in New York state.
State lawmakers voted on Friday, June 24, 2011 to legalize same-sex marriage, with the law taking effect thirty days later. Commenting on the legislation State Assemblyman Chuck Lavine stated, "All New Yorkers are proud that our state finally recognizes this major step towards human rights."
This decision makes New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples are legally able to marry.
According to Gaitley, the couple approached the mayor several weeks ago, asking if it might be possible for the Glen Cove City Clerk’s office to open on Sunday, so they could marry on the first day the law would go into effect. Several other municipalities around the state opened on Sunday, including all of the boroughs of New York City; however, Gaitley explained to the mayor that they would like to be married in their home city of Glen Cove. The mayor replied, “I’ll do one better, let’s start the service at midnight on the evening of July 23.
The big question on the minds of many residents at Tuesday night’s City of Glen Cove Planning Board meeting has yet to be answered, as the board reserved decision on the application of a four-building piazza for Village Square.
Last month the board held a public hearing allowing residents to ask questions and view a presentation by site developer Michael Puntillo of Jobco Realty and Construction. The plan is to redevelop the property into four buildings that are four- and five-stories high, consisting of 142 multi-family residential apartments and approximately 27,000 square feet of retail space. An additional 107 parking spaces will be added in underground garages, with intent to use the existing garages that are currently underutilized, according to the plan presented at the hearing.
Addressing Puntillo, Planning Board Chairman Thomas Scott said, “We’ve hit a roadblock. We on this board feel as if a game of Catch 22 is being played, and we don’t want to be caught in the middle of that game. If you can’t purchase the outparcel buildings, it changes the design entirely, it’s not a piazza.” He went on to say the board felt that if an application was granted, the developer could possibly push businesses out, to achieve the greater vision of the piazza.
“We have made extremely fair offers, and if we can’t come to terms, we can peacefully coexist,” Puntillo responded. “The overall economic benefit of having young people in Glen Cove, patronizing stores downtown, far outweighs the concern that the buildings will stay, and outweighs the loss of public space, which is minimal.”
He said they have been reaching out to the business owners of the outparcel buildings for 2-3 years, and that the board would be putting those businesses at an advantage if they thought he couldn’t move forward with the project without them on board.
The board asked if they could extend the decision until the next scheduled meeting in September; Puntillo responded that if the decision was delayed that long, there was no way they could begin building this fall.
The board went into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss with council; they then decided to reserve decision until a special meeting on August 10, at 7:30 p.m. At that time they will either approve or deny the application. There will be no further public hearing on the matter.
As LIPA / National Grid moves to take away the Glenwood Landing plant, and millions in taxes with it, the North Shore Board of Education has had to take action on two fronts – altering its 2011-12 financial plans to accommodate one more hardship and meeting with state officials to try to ease the shock to the school system if the plant decommissioning comes to pass.
First, in the July 14 edition of the Record Pilot, a typo stated that the board voted to change the tax levy, amounting to a $26 per month increase for every $200,000 in home value. That is $26 per year, not month.
At the board's July 7 meeting, the point of concern was that a tax cap is coming down from New York State, likely at the same time that Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano’s move will go through to push millions in tax refund costs onto school districts’ books. North Shore Schools had a $744,587 fund balance this year. The board decided that LIPA’s announcement that it might be causing an $8 to $10 million loss in tax revenue was enough to put some of that balance into a reserve to pay the $1 to $2 million a year in costs that tax refunds could create. (School districts are currently suing Nassau County to stop this.)
Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick added after the meeting that outside of the $744,587, the board did give $655,000 back to the community from an over-funded, state mandated pension reserve.
The board voted to split the $744,587 balance in question, giving half back to the community to offset the tax levy, and putting the other half into a reserve that can legally go toward certioraris. This creates a levy increase of 4.42 percent, instead of the originally estimated 3.95 percent.
During the meeting, Trustee Amy Beyer said, “The decision to put money away is the responsible decision. We did not know any of these issues [tax cap, LIPA plant, when proposing the 2011-12 tax levy]. This is not ‘apples to apples.’” She continued, “It would be easy to be the hero right now… very easy to take the [fund balance] and give it back. It’s much harder to put it aside and take the heat. But we’re making for a better circumstance later.”
New trustee Thomas Knierim agreed: “I think what happened with the power plant is a game changer… we’re going to need every dollar we have for tax certioraris or other things.”
Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia T. Buatsi, who proposed various options for the board, echoed the sentiment: “We need something to stop the big spike when we are faced [simultaneously with the plant leaving and tax certs from the county].
After the meeting, new board president Carolyn Genovesi told the Record Pilot that the trustees were concerned about communicating with the North Shore community. Town Hall meetings are in the works for September, when they believe residents will be back from summer break and available to focus on the issues at hand.
Regarding the LIPA move, Genovesi told this paper that the board is fighting for an arrangement that does not devastate the schools, or burden the taxpayers.
“This is very unfair, particularly to senior citizens who were told they had a certain tax levy,” she said. “We are meeting with elected officials. Our position is if you are going to impose a closing of a facility, it can’t be done in a way that is a financial shock to the community. We have dealt with the pollution and ugliness of the facility as their host. Now it is only fair to have some kind of stipend, to slowly unroll [the decommissioning] so that it is not felt all in one period of time.”
State Senator Carl Marcellio agreed, telling the Record Pilot, “We are meeting with the Nassau County assessor to determine what the impact might be on the district in various scenarios. The trick is to get something worked out so that the district is not hit all at once. We don’t want them just walking out saying ‘We’re here today paying $20 million…. now… goodbye.’ Then everyone else is hit with the difference.”
Assemblyman Michael Montesano said, “I recently met with the North Shore Board of Education and fellow elected officials to discuss potential ways to mitigate the impact felt by the taxpayer and school district due to these closures. I look forward to continuing this discussion with my fellow elected officials, the Governor, NYS Comptroller DiNapoli, and the NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPS) about other avenues to alleviate the effect to taxpayers.”
Across the aisle, Assemblyman Charles Lavine concurred: “The sudden loss of millions of dollars of real property tax revenue presents an unprecedented danger to the North Shore School District. That district is one of the very best in the United States and we all realize that our quality of life will be severely impaired if North Shore is financially unable to maintain its commitment to outstanding public educational services. I have discussed this issue with representatives of Governor Cuomo's administration and with my contacts at LIPA and National Grid. I will be meeting with other members of the Assembly and the Senate for the school district. I am confident that we will be able to develop financial alternatives that will assist the North Shore School District and the taxpayers whose support is absolutely necessary to its continued success.”
Representatives from LIPA/ National Grid have refused to speak with the Record Pilot.
According to Glen Cove mom Laura Perfetti, there are 25 drug trials going on now for various drugs to treat the affliction causing tumors to grow on her 9-year-old daughter Julia’s nerve tissue. Tenf years ago, there were none.
That means the tireless efforts of families like the Perfettis – to raise funds for research in the fight against neurofibromatosis (NF) – are starting to show results. Across the country, concerned parents and the supporters behind them have been putting on things like the annual carnival in Glen Cove to keep hope alive.
This Saturday, the money spent for games, food and raffles will again go to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, earmarked for research that can ease the symptoms of NF. Laura described the affliction, “The cells in [Julia’s] body move too fast. Therefore, tumors grow, sometimes right on nerves. So it is difficult or impossible to operate. Or, even after an operation, new tumors grow back… It covers your whole body. There is no part you can say, ‘it’s probably OK.’ You always have to wonder and worry.”
So far Julia’s family has personally raised $200,000 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. They have to pay to do a drug trial, and each one so far has cost around $25,000. So, the fundraising is very necessary. Regarding the research, she said, “We are hoping they can come up with a cocktail of drugs to prevent the tumors from growing.”
The research and fundraising have led to some relief. They have discovered a treatment that at least alleviates the extreme pain that young Julia has been braving.
But, a search for more of a treatment is getting urgent. “We’re really hoping for the ‘cocktail’ in the next few years because everything seems to accelerate with puberty,” shared Laura. “Julia is turning nine now.”
Again, for 2011, Saturday’s carnival will be a big treat for anyone who wants to help the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
Local businesses donate items for fun and really great raffle prizes like massages, Sesame Place passes, a camera, Gamin Ride gift cards and more. Representatives from the Islanders are coming with vouchers for free tickets to games and a bounce house. The Glen Cove Fire Department is bringing a firetruck and the GCPD are bringing a police car for kids to check out. Favorite attractions are back, like: the dunk tank; cotton candy, burgers and hot dogs; Glen Cove Beer Distributors is donating a very generous supply of water; Rita’s is bringing over ices; pony rides from 1 to 2 p.m.; sand art and more.
Everything at the carnival costs $1 and a family can come for an unlimited pass for $100.
To make a donation, people can drop a check at 57 Sugar Maple Lane, call Laura at 641-4103 or to learn more about NF, go to www.teamjuliabug.com.
On the evening of July 6, an air of change filled the room as Richard Maccarone was elected Glen Cove School District’s newest board president. After receiving five YES votes and one abstention, Maccarone was officially sworn in.
Also sworn in that evening was Superintendent Dr. Joseph Laria, Vice President David Huggins, and Trustees Joel Sunshine (re-elected) and Barrie Dratch (newly-elected).
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