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County Tax Woes Discussed at Board of Ed Meeting

During a lengthy board of education meeting on Nov. 16, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen addressed two countywide tax issues that directly affect the Garden City School District and local taxpayers.

At an October board meeting, Feirsen announced that he learned that the county legislature building, located at 1550 Franklin Avenue, had appeared in error on the school tax rolls resulting in a staggering $1.3 million tax bill for the Garden City School District.

“The county had mistakenly placed that building on the tax rolls and therefore, included in the total assessment value that it used to set school district tax rates. Obviously the county cannot tax itself. We were hopeful that we would have some clear information from the county by this point as to how they intended to deal with this, frankly, absurd situation, and we’ve not received any communication from them to date,” Feirsen told the audience.

According to Feirsen, the amount that was to be paid for the county building was due on Nov. 10 and yet to be paid as of press time. “I do know this — that the amount that was to be paid to the Town of Hempstead has not been received by the Town of Hempstead,” Feirsen said, adding that the amount of the tax bill was about $650,000.

Feirsen went on to say that the district may take legal action in the future. “We have asked our counsel to contact the county attorney because it was my understanding, based on the last conversation I had with the county assessors office, that that was where the matter was being referred to,” Feirsen said. Since that point, the county assessor has been replaced and the new office has not contacted the school district on the matter, Feirsen added.

It was also reported that the county legislature did pass the Commonsense Act of 2010 two weeks ago. Feirsen said the legislation means “the county is attempting to shift the responsibility for tax refunds from the county to school districts and other levels of government. This is not a cost saving in any way. This merely takes it out of the county’s domain and places the burden on school districts. We will be talking with the board in upcoming months about how to deal with this situation.

“It is possible that there will be a legal challenge to this because the Act in 1938 that allowed the county as the exception to the rule in New York State to start to do assessments on a countywide basis also had a provision in that law for the county then to be responsible for any mistakes they made in the assessments. So we believe that there might be good reason for a legal challenge. It takes an act of state legislature to create it and it takes an act of state legislature to undo it,” Feirsen said.