The Port Washington School District is due to receive $955,000 from Nassau County, after the county puts the item on the legislative calendar and approves the payment on Feb. 23, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Mary Callahan, who spoke with lawyers from the county last week.
The money, in the form of a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the Pall Corporation property, was originally, and unilaterally, taken away by the county four years ago.
Ms. Callahan explained that the district then sued the county because they contended that the county charter requires the county to make schools "whole" (pay all the taxes due) regardless of PILOT agreements they may draw up separately with a corporation or business which reduces their obligation for county, town or other taxes.
Continuing, she told Port News that in this instance, the Pall Corporation not only struck a PILOT agreement with the county, but they also had filed for a tax reduction under the certiorari rules which was granted by the county legislature and the county said, in laymen's terms, that they were not bound to make the district "whole" because different rules apply when there is both a certiorari and a PILOT.
The school administration's contention and that of the board has been that you cannot have an agreement that negatively effects the school district taxpayers by taking money away from the school district without allowing the school district to be a participant in the decision making.
The case was first decided in favor of the county. However, the district appealed that decision, and the appeals court issued their decision in favor of the district on April 24, 2008.
While the amount of the PILOT was originally $680,000, the court ordered the county to pay interest of 9 percent per annum, bringing the amount now due to approximately $955,000.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoff Gordon is anxious to recoup these dollars. He notes, "It not only affects the budget and tax levy, but this also effects our reserve funds directly and has a direct impact on people and jobs."
When asked to comment, Port's County Legislator Wayne Wink said, "We are working with the legislature and the administration to resolve this. We have every intention of ensuring the school district is made whole."