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UPDATE: Clarkstown School Tax Surcharge Will Be One-Time Taxpayer Expense

Town council members say the one percent processing fee for school tax collection will be effective just for this year.

 

The Clarkstown Town Board announced Tuesday it will waive the one percent processing fee on school taxes for the 2013-2014 school year. Councilmembers George Hoehmann and Stephanie Hausner confirm that the surcharge will be a onetime cost for taxpayers and will not reappear on tax bills in the future.

The Town Board imposed the one percent processing fee to offset more than $2 million that Rockland County unexpectedly shifted to the Town. Clarkstown did not plan for the additional $2 million in expenses in its 2012 budget and imposed the one percent fee, which will bring in about $1.5 million.  

The town board, which is in the midst of planning the 2013 budget, decided to waive the processing fee for the 2013-2014 school year and will vote on a resolution waiving its ability to collect the surcharge at the Tuesday, October 2 meeting. The preliminary budget will be presented at the meeting. Borelli said the town is grappling with how to cover the added cost of several million dollars. 

“I think it is one and done,” said Hoehmann. “We’re going to do what we can to find additional efficiencies. We’re going to look in the future at how to deal with it on a different level.”

Hausner said it raising the additional money was something the board needed to do this year because the county transferred unplanned expenses to the town.

“This is really going to be a one-time thing,” she said.      

Supervisor Alex Gromack said, "We're going to eliminate the school processing fee for 2013-2014 and beyond."

Gromack said that a resolution waiving the processing fee will probably have to be passed at every annual reorganization meeting.  

Hausner said she thinks the town will continue to collect taxes for the school districts in the future without the added burden of the surcharge. 

School officials in the four affected districts reacted positively.

Clarkstown Central School District School Board President Joe Malgieri said, “The School Board is appreciative that the Town Board has revisited this situation and came to a positive solution for every taxpayer. This will certainly make it easier for us to work within the confines of the 2% tax cap and get our own budget passed in May.”

Nyack Public Schools Superintendent Dr. James Montesano, said, “This represents the Town's sensitivity to the concerns that have been expressed and our District looks forward to working cooperatively with the Town in the future.”

Nanuet Union Free School District Superintendent Dr. Mark McNeill, said, “This further promotes the positive and strong working relationship we’ve always had with the Town.” 

East Ramapo Central School District Superintendent Dr. Joel Klein, said, “This is a positive move by the members of the Town Board to benefit the Clarkstown taxpayers in the East Ramapo School District.”

The additional county costs that Clarkstown has to account for include approximately $1 million for the Rockland County Police Narcotics and Intel Task Forces, $600,000 for Rockland Community College chargebacks, and $450,000 for the Rockland County Board of Elections. 

The agenda and resolutions for the 8 p.m. town board meeting should be posted online on the Clarkstown website by late Friday afternoon. The proposed budget should also be available. It must be presented to the town clerk by September 30.

Mary September 26, 2012 at 12:22 PM
I wonder what the response will be when I tell them at the tax office that I am deducting the surcharge because it was repealed?
Get Real September 26, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Why is it that there is never a "rainy-day" fund for unexpected expenses.? Agree with Gwashington, we are paying this 1% increase this year and may have to pay in the future. Clarkstown needs new blood - a new Supervisor, a reduced staff who are grateful to have jobs and show it and a Town that is run like a business, not like a kingdom.
Phil Leiter September 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM
This issue is simply that if the Town Board feels compelled to raise revenues, then the case should be made with direct action. Raising revenues with a "processing fee" that appears to be related to the school district budgets, however legal the practice, is inherently confusing. It is good that the Town Board responded to school district officials, parents and taxpayers to waive this "processing fee" for the upcoming school year budgets. It is also good that the Town officials intend to seek additional efficiencies rather than additional revenues. Yet, one must be concerned that it appears the imposition of this fee will remain an option in the Town's playbook on an annual basis. It would be far preferable if the Town simply takes this option off the table, ensuring that school taxes and Town taxes remain separate, distinct and readily identifiable charges.
Thomas Leonard September 26, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I agree, it should be repealed this year. I don't believe them when they say this is a onetime charge.
Robert Ward Kurkela September 26, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Joe Malgieri is clearly a leader and acting on behalf of the very people who elected him. He attended a Town Board meeting to voice his concern over the 1% tax. Look at the results. Impressive is an understatement.

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