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Editorial: County Guarantee and Your Taxes

We thank both 18th LD candidates for their willingness to respond to campaign questions. The two very different responses this week reflect the deep division – and confusion – on the subject.

The confusion in our area lies in a very unfair practice within Glen Cove but affects all the other readers in the 18th LD - Sea Cliff, Bayville, Locust Valley, Brookville, Glen Head, Greenvale and Jericho.

Both candidates are right to bring up the issue that Glen Cove taxpayers pay for tax certs twice. But, they give you very different responses. One seems to work for Glen Cove and hurt everyone else in the legislative district.

One candidate points to a June 16, 2000 Record Pilot article:

In this piece, Democrats Brian Muellers and Tom Suozzi are quoted talking about changing a New York State statute that excludes a “co-terminus” school like Glen Cove. They don’t seem to be talking about removing the guarantee in the story, as suggested. Rather it appears that they were working to get Glen Cove included under the guarantee, so that the city would be in the same boat as everyone else and not pay tax certs.

At any rate, 11 years later, the article is less informative than the answer to these two questions would be:

• 1) Should your legislator support the removal of the guarantee because it hurts Glen Cove if that ignores the fact that every other district will then be stuck with higher costs?

(North Shore Schools, as an example, was just forced to hold on to a large fund balance that it was planning to give back to the community, which now has to be kept on reserve to pay what they project to be millions of dollars in tax cert related costs.)

• 2) Would a better approach be to solve Glen Cove’s issue separately, in a truly thought out way and tackle the assessment problem on its own… rather than confuse issues to garner support for legislation that throws a wrench into the operations (and will affect the taxes) of almost every town, village, library and school in Nassau?

(For instance, several years ago, a former Glen Cove superintendent suggested that the district might be able to change its boundaries, extending them into the water, making the school no longer co-terminous. If an option like that is out there, is that better than sticking 41 school districts with extra costs?)

Many people of both parties probably believe that if Nassau cannot perform assessments properly, something should change. The major opposition right now to the removal of the guarantee is connected to the way it is being done. That is, suddenly and brutally. The county has simply said, in essence, “this is over, you schools will pay for our mistakes.” And when the schools pay, you pay. Remember that with a tax cap in place, these costs will either come right out of programs in your school budget, or the community might be forced to ignore the tax cap and raise your taxes. That is an option.              

- M.A.P.