UPDATE: School Tax Surcharge Stuns School Officials

School district superintendents say no discussion or formal notice of Clarkstown’s planned one percent surcharge took place

Clarkstown’s proposed one percent to collect school taxes caught school district officials by surprise.

Clarkstown’s new School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Morton said the surtax was mixed in with other information as he was given an hours long tour of Clarkstown about a month ago.  Nanuet School Superintendent Dr. Mark McNeill said he got a phone call in early August from Town Supervisor Alex Gromack telling him the surcharge was going to be included in upcoming school tax bills. East Ramapo Superintendent Joel Klein said he found out today when he received an email from McNeill.

The other school district that falls within Clarkstown’s borders is Nyack.

“I’ve not gotten any notification whatsoever,” said Morton.

“The first I’ve seen (about it) was a response from another superintendent,” said Klein referring to the letter the Nanuet Board of Education sent to Supervisor Gromack and town board officials.

“I just learned about it today,” said Clarkstown School Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities & Fiscal Management John LaNave said. “Mr. Gromack did confirm to me they were adding the one percent.”

The town is allowed by law to add a processing fee for collecting school taxes. However it was never imposed. Now, residents will be receiving bills for higher amounts than they expected or had budgeted for. 

“This will add a full percent increase to it (the school tax bill),” said LaNave.

In addition to the school board approved homestead increase of 2.1 percent, property owners will have to pay one percent more.

“For the resident it will look like 3.1 percent roughly,” said LaNave. “That’s disappointing.”

The Clarkstown School District’s increase will cost the homeowner of an average property $160. The surcharge will cost the average homeowner $80 more.

LaNave said the town’s surcharge is not part of the two percent property tax restriction and will not affect school district revenues.

The one percent surtax will collect $1.4 million from Clarkstown School District residents and business owners within the town's borders. It will bring in several hundred thousand dollars more from Clarkstown property owners within the East Ramapo School District.  On top of those amounts, there will be approximately $355,000 collected from the Nanuet school district and additional monies from the Nyack district.

Calls to town officials asking for additional information and background on their decision and how the added revenue will be used have not been returned. According to Gromack’s office, there will not be a response until Town Attorney Amy Mele is available next week.  

LaNave said although the town has had the authority to add a fee for collecting bills it never acted on it because of a reciprocal arrangement with the Clarkstown School District. The district has not charged the town to use school buildings for summer camp programs.  

The town sends out the school tax bills from late August through early September and payment is due by late October.  It is not known if an explanation of the one percent surcharge will be included with the tax forms.

Klein found the town’s handling of the added surtax disconcerting.

“You would think they would notify people,” he said. “Let the people know.”



Tony T August 30, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Another stupid idea out of Town Hall all the school districts will do is add the tax surcharge to the School District Taxes and it will be charged back to home owner....who's idea was this?? Alex enough is enough......I guess it was a way of paying for the $75,000 part time Frank Sparaco.
Z August 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM
What the heck is going on here? O.K. so now the town, in this horrible economy, hurts the people who live in the town to pay more for their school taxes. As a taxpayer, I demand to know from the town "why now?" Why now when people are still suffering, are out of work and trying to make ends meet? It is just disgusting that the school districts didn't even know about this. And Clarkstown schools let the town use their facilities for nothing? I say "Send them a bill!"
mike sullivan August 30, 2012 at 11:51 PM
what does it really matter, if the town doesn't do this than thay will raise town tax,we are going to pay one way or another in the scheme of things who really cares,we just pay and it doesn't matter who is in power I know 10 people will reply after me saying that we can fight this and other taxes,but you really can't and i am ok with that
mike sullivan August 30, 2012 at 11:56 PM
think i can afford the $6.67 a month surcharge increase and i am on unemployment
Z August 31, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Good for you. But others can't as our taxes just keep rising and rising every year. Sounds like another sneaky move by our illustrious town board
Mike Hirsch August 31, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Mike, from reading these, and other previous posts of yours, I get the impression that you would be ok if you were sitting down at dinner and a stranger came into your house and carved out your liver. Do you really believe that you are powerless to do anything?
Christie2012 August 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I used to enjoy reading your posts - no more! If you knew what was really happening in these schools, you wouldn't want to give another penny!
J H August 31, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Yet another sneaky way to tax us without taxing us. Thanks a lot. Gotta love these politicians.
I truly wish the palisade s mall wins their tax challenge.. all around the mall the area looks like a dump in progress empty gas stations building empty!!!!what a great town!!!!!but build stupid parks in west nyack with NO parking and a fountain...add streetlights to a little road off 303 in valley cottage and the best one yet!!!! a boardwalk in congers!!!is anyone home on maple ave???amazing you drive into the parking lot and see a 60,000 in the handicapped spot!! and a porshe next to the buildings..now that people is kicking dirt at every taxpayer...and you give a raise to a clerk of the works??? the bottom line is they awl laugh at the taxpayers..they know at best its a few weeks of people angry..but THEY DONT CARE...never did...never will...sad but put food in front of most of them and watch out.....unless the many pictures we see are over inflated
Barry S August 31, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Tony T - you hit right on the mark. They have to get the $$$ from somewhere - the resident ATM machine....
joe martino August 31, 2012 at 03:55 PM
School taxes should be charged based on usage. It isn't fair to ask people to pay a full share when they are not using the services of the school system. Charge me something but not the same amount as someone who has children using the school system. Its not a fair system and needs to be overhauled
joe martino August 31, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Needin you need to run for office. Well said
mike sullivan August 31, 2012 at 04:57 PM
chrisstie2012,i do know whats going on in the schools.Maybe you should find out.We have teacher's that have to buy theyr'e own flags for the classroom,you would be appaled at what teacher's have to pay out of theyr'e pocket we need to raise teacher's salaries I know that the arguement is that teacher's only work 10 months a year,don't forget meet the teacher nights,parent conferences,lesson plans at home,correcting homework and all the other BS
J H August 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Disagreed. Using that logic, I shouldn't have to pay certain taxes for things I don't use either. I don't drive on all of the roads; I get no benefit from the fancy walls on New Hempstead Road; I don't use the clerk's office; there's a ton of parks I never use; the list goes on and on. Most people, at some point, will have used the school, so the burden is spread evenly. I'm not sure there IS a more fair way to do it...
stephany August 31, 2012 at 07:47 PM
x is based on average of last 3 yrs +2%. no estimates when considering income it is total household income of everyone over 18 since they can vote on school tax bill they might as well pay seniors qualifying for enhanced star pay x dollars assuming no kids in school seniors on reg star pay 1.25x dollars assuming no kids in school homeowners and apt dwellers of child bearing age but without kids [pre]pay 1.5x dollars homeowners and apt dwellers with 1 kid in school pay 2x dollars add .25x for each kid 55 and over with no kids currently in school and never had any in any public school pay fee like mortgage fee before moving into active living community 55 and over with no kids currently in school but had kids in school pay fee based on how many kids and how long they have been out of local school the shorter time they have been out the bigger the fee people who rent homes pay tax at business rate because it is a business parents with kids with disabilities pay up to 3x if they can afford it,but minimum of 1x and add .5x for each kid based on income [including hidden] or something like that
stephany August 31, 2012 at 07:58 PM
actually x is the minimum payment due-not as stated above. if you use the last 3 years average it can be figured out. out goes value of home as determining factor
user145 August 31, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Patch Editors - Your statement of "The town sends out the school tax bills from late August through early September and payment is due by late October. " is not entirely accurate. School taxes are due September 30 without penalty. They will accept them in October, but with an additional 5% penalty charge. Your information above, if people rely on it, will cost them additional money.
Robin Traum (Editor) August 31, 2012 at 10:05 PM
User145 Thank you for pointing that out. People should read their bills carefully to see when payment is due without incurring a penalty fee. Robin
Michael N. Hull August 31, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Needin Information Are teachers less important salary-wise than the police? http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/the-joke-is-on-you http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/two-jokes-one-humorous-one-laughable
mike sullivan August 31, 2012 at 10:35 PM
sorry $100,000 a year is not alot of money for this tri state area
Robin Traum (Editor) August 31, 2012 at 10:46 PM
This article has been updated with information received late Friday afternoon from Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack's office. http://patch.com/A-xwDW
Scott Duplessis August 31, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Let's not forget pensions, benefits and accrued time off and the fact that most teachers work less than 200 days per year. I am certainly not convinced that Rockland County's teachers are underpaid. In my opinion, If there is a waiting list to get a job and hundreds apply for 1 position then the salary is too high and not too low. If they are underpaid then why do so many people want to work as an educator in Rockland County?
Kim Tran September 06, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Alex Gromack will be at the Nanuet Civic Association meeting tonight to field questions about this. http://nanuet.patch.com/articles/tonight-alex-gromack-ed-day-to-attend-nanuet-civic-meeting
Donna September 06, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Tell my why a collection fee should be there at all..considering we already pay all of their saleries for which most of the year they do little for it? Also ..a check is a check. Be it for $4000 or 10,000. Why a percentage to stamp it and bank it??? Or send out a notice? Extra ink for the bigger sum???
Robin Traum (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Donna The purpose of the surcharge is not to cover the expense of collecting the school taxes. It is to raise money to cover the costs that the county is shifting to Clarkstown. The town expects to raise about $1.5 million from the surcharge and the supervisor has said he expects the costs transferred by the county will run about $2 million. Robin


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