A dozen Port Washington businesses have filed a lawsuit in Nassau County Supreme Court against Nassau County and the Port Washington School District alleging that the district is taxing them at an unfair rate. A press conference was held the morning of Tuesday, July 25, on the steps of Schreiber High School to explain the rationale for the lawsuit.
The plaintiff's attorney, E. Christopher Murray, a partner with the Garden City law firm of Reisman, Peirez and Reisman, presented the case for the lawsuit. Murray said that, after reassessment, state law created "a school district tax that is not related to any objective criteria and is nothing more than a randomly created ratio." Murray introduced a number of businessmen who are plaintiffs in the suit for their comments. Plaintiff Sidney Segal, of Segal Associates in Port said, " Good schools come with a price tag, but the system needs to be fair." Segal had two sons educated in Port schools.
Richard Bivone, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce presented the larger picture to reporters who had assembled from Port News, Newsday, Channels 4, 7 and 12. Bivone emphasized that the school tax dilemma was not limited to Port Washington but was found throughout Nassau County. Roy Smithheimer, executive director of Port's Business Improvement District, summed up most sentiments saying briefly that there was a need to "stop the bleeding" of local businesses caused by the current tax policies. Smithheimer said the problem of unfair tax policies was evident in the increasing number of vacant stores on Main St.
Several Port entrepreneurs were present along with reporters and several members of the general public. One business owner, Matthew D' Aguanno of C.P.C. Pools in Port was particularly critical of the inequities of taxing Port businesses. D'Aguanno, a 17-year resident of Port, opened his business here three years ago and the school tax was $6,000; today, that tax has risen to $32,000.
At the conclusion of the presentation, three of the plaintiffs in the suit fed what was purported to be their school tax bills into portable shredders. An excited reporter asked quickly if the papers were actual bills. Attorney Chris Murray hastily said the papers were only symbolic and assured the media that his clients would continue to pay their taxes.