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District Investigates Surcharge Remedies

Clarkstown School District looking into billing town for use of buildings and fields and collecting taxes on its own

 

Since Clarkstown School District officials learned that the town added a one percent on the school tax bill, they have been looking at ways to offset that unexpected taxpayer expense.  Some of the options explored are charging the town for its use of school district buildings and fields and finding a bank or other entity that can collect the school taxes for less than $1.5 million.

Neither option appears ideal as Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities & Fiscal Management John LaNave explained at Thursday night’s school board meeting.  The town board and school board both must approve letting the school district collect its own taxes.  He did not express optimism that the town board would vote in favor of letting the district collect taxes because the surcharge will be used by Clarkstown to pay up to $2 million in expenses being shifted by Rockland County to the town.   

LaNave said if the district got permission, he could probably find a way to collect taxes for $100,000 or less.

He noted New York State Education Law allows school districts to charge for use of gyms and outdoor facilities. He said a review of town use of facilities showed there were 66 different types of programs and activities, which translated in hundreds of events over the past year. LaNave said if the district chose to charge for the usage, it could bring in between $275,000 and $475,000.  However, he said a fee imposed on the town would likely be passed directly to taxpayers.

Board President Joe Malgieri said he did not want to pass more costs onto the taxpayers.

The one percent imposed on school district tax bills covers the money being raised for Clarkstown’s schools and the New City and West Nyack library budgets. LaNave said without any real prior notification of the surcharge, it came as a surprise to district officials and residents who are now calling to complain about the processing fee, which increases their tax bills by three percent, not the two percent anticipated.

“We feel bad because it’s an unexpected bill for residents,” said LaNave. “There was no public discussion. What we’re worried about is next year when we go out and propose two percent. By adding this fee they have put us in a really, really tough spot.”

LaNave said senior citizens have already told him, the 2013-2014 school budget cannot increase by two percent next if the surcharge remains. It can only increase by one percent or they will vote against it.

Malgieri said the Rockland County School Boards Association is planning to study the issue.

 

Z September 07, 2012 at 06:36 PM
So how does the town board get to approve letting the school district collect its own taxes while the town board itself did not let the district know about this surcharge in a timely manner?
Michael N. Hull September 07, 2012 at 09:13 PM
When I spoke to the Town Board last night I mentioned that the Town has a 'Tax Stabilization Fund' that it uses to cover its own deficit spending while it increases the Town debt through bonding.  Mr. Gromack's strategy appears to be to make it appear that he is not raising Town taxes by drawing down the Stabilization Fund.  He is quite happy to say that the County has fiscal problems and so do the Schools but Clarkstown does not. This is the article that I gave to the School Board.  http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/looking-through-my-bills  Mr. Gromack could have taken this 'surcharge fee' out of his Stabilization Fund and then held consultations with the schools as to what would be charged to whom in the next tax cycle.  But he is up for re-election next year which may explain his strategy.  Also if he loses the tax cert battle with the Palisades Mall there is another ball game to be played.   Taxpayers hang on to your wallets!
ADK September 07, 2012 at 09:27 PM
The school district needs to apply pressure the only way it can...remove all Town sponsored programs until a resolution can be reached...this will focus attention on the abominable behaviour of the Supervisor and Board and force a resolution.
Mike Hirsch September 07, 2012 at 10:08 PM
LaNave and Malgieri have acted responsibly. Alex has not. Someone needs to step forward and challenge this woefull career politician in the election next year.
Michael N. Hull September 08, 2012 at 01:29 AM
In the above comment <<< Town Board>>> I meant <<<School Board>>> I also attended the Nanuet Civic Association meeting earlier that same evening and have commented on that meeting in the link below. http://newcity.patch.com/articles/alex-gromack-addresses-surcharge-new-highway-pt-position

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