Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Suozzi Launches School Tax Reduction Campaign

School Board Presidents, Legislators, Comptroller Join in Unprecedented Coordinated Effort to Reduce School Property Taxes

Mineola, NY - On the heels of his overwhelming reelection as Nassau County Executive, Tom Suozzi joined County Legislators and school board presidents from across the county to launch a campaign to help reduce school taxes, which make up the largest portion of property tax bills in Nassau County.

"The most important issue on Long Island right now is the high property taxes we pay in Nassau County, much of which comes from school taxes," Suozzi said. "We have to start building a consensus that this is the number one problem we face on Long Island and we have to find a solution."

Residents throughout the county have identified high school taxes as a key issue, Suozzi said, and businesses also say the taxes are a reason why more companies are not locating here. While the county has no control over school taxes, Suozzi said he felt a moral obligation to take on the fight to reduce them because the issue is so important to the future of Long Island. Several leading school district officials asked Suozzi to become involved in finding a solution to the crushing burden of high school taxes.

"But this won't be solved overnight, and the answer will not come this week or in the next couple of months," Suozzi said. "This is a long term problem that needs real solutions, not a quick fix."

Suozzi pointed to an imbalance in state aid as a major contributor to the problem of ever escalating school taxes in Nassau County. "We only get 17 percent of our school funding from the state when the state average is 37 percent," he said.

The County Executive said he has invited representatives from the 56 school districts in Nassau County to discuss possible solutions to the school tax problem during a meeting in early December. He and his staff have been meeting informally on the issue with a smaller group of school board leaders since the early fall.

County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, who appeared with Suozzi at the news conference, said high property values in Nassau County also contribute to the school tax problem on Long Island. "Our research on this issue has shown that the state depends too much on property values when it calculates state aid formulas," he said. "Everyone knows our property values are high, but what people may not realize is that more than half of Nassau residents can't afford to buy their own houses based on their incomes. So we're paying high taxes, based on low school aid, because of how much our houses are worth. This system needs to be changed. A lot of people are house rich, but income poor."

The half a dozen school board leaders who joined Suozzi to launch the campaign praised his willingness to take on a leadership role on the sensitive issue. "This is only the beginning of our efforts, and we look forward to working with all of the county's school districts and seeking solutions to this very pressing issue," said Tom Murphy, President of the North Shore School District Board of Education.

The December meeting with school board leaders is being called to develop an agenda for the school tax reduction effort. Potential solutions to the tax problem may include the possible consolidation of certain business functions among school districts, Suozzi said. He also did not rule out the possibility of legal action in order to secure Nassau County's fair share of school aid from the state.

Other school board officials joining the County Executive for the announcement included: Amy Beyers, Vice President from the North Shore School District; Cindy Cardinal and Aline Khatchadourian, president and vice president of the Manhasset School District; Richard Tortorici and Janet Bakes Wilk, president and past president of the Glen Cove School District; Ron Walsh, president of the Locust Valley School District; and Roy Lester, president of the Long Beach City School District.

Suozzi urged school district leaders to come together to find a solution for the good of the county.

"I believe that I'm in a position, and we're all in a position, to organize and bring together these 56 different entities that need to be brought together, right now, on this issue because we're all getting beat up, school district by school district, community by community," he said.
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Is your local School Board "on board" the campaign train to reduce School Property Taxes? If not, why not?

Contact the members of your community's Board of Education -- call, e-mail, send a letter, or, better yet, attend a Board meeting -- and tell them to get on board, or get out of the way!

How about your State Senator and Assemblymember? Have they joined the fight? If not, why not?

Contact your State Legislators and tell them you want real School Property Tax reform now!

Ask your local civic association and community groups, are they on board? If not, why not?

This is no time for sitting on the sidelines, the potted plants of "Main Street." We've done too much sitting around over the years as Special Districts from Fire to Sanitation to Water run amuck, as we play footsie with politicos who pat us on the backs with one hand, while their fiefdoms pick our pockets with the other.

And your neighbors -- have they signed on to lower School Property Taxes? Do they even realize that the battle rages so close to home?

E-mail this Blog (SEE link below) to your friends, colleagues and fellow Long Islanders. The more who know, the greater our chances of victory!

Now some may view Tom Suozzi's activism on this front as a purely political ploy. It may very well be. For the moment, however, this is the only train in the station on track for real Property Tax reform.

Friend or foe of the County Executive, there is no denying that the oppressive and regressive Property Tax -- and, in particular, the School Property Tax, which accounts for more than 60% of our Property Tax tab -- is strangling us here on Long Island, and there is neither politics nor ploy in saying that Property Tax is the enemy. The enemy of your enemy is your friend!

Yes, that train is about to leave the station, folks. "Get on board, or get out of the way!"


  1. Be careful when it comes to school boards, remember they are responsible for many issues. Look at the audits, look at cell phones, trips credit card expense, look at all the troubles and it was started by school boards. They are now talkig about the salaries and perks of the administrations. WHO GAVE THEM ALL THIS MONEY? The school boards.So before we do more damage, I would hope we get more imput other then the advice of school board members. The first item on next year budget should be a 10% reduction in Superintendents pay along with give backs, then proceed to the budget. People believe more money and the more we spend equals a better education, False. We need to create 1 public school system, which is equal for all. If that bothers some, to bad there are private schools. I spoke to a friend who left Long Island 8 years ago because of taxes and the high cost of living. He told me after 8 years living in North Carolina his taxes have gone from 1200 a year to 1300 on a 5 bedroom home. WOW! and get this they are building new schools each year. My taxes are 6 times that and in just 6 years from 1999 to 2005 my school taxes have almost doubled. Do we have a problem here? You bet we do and we better start consolidating much of this waste. For those who are worried about becoming the sixth bourough, I have news for you, We are and have been for some time now only we pay 5 times more than Queens. If you think we aren't just take a good look around at the illegal multi family apartment homes, plus the traffic, garbage and road conditions. Is this the Nassau County I remember as a kid? NO WAY!!

  2. Why should I move? I am trying to fix the problems you don't see. Did you raise the rent on your basement tenant? I know maybe you are not paying those illegal day workers enough and they are starting to complain to you. I know you are one of those who don't mind paying more for garbage pick up. OR you don't mind paying more in school taxes for those kids coming out of illegal apartments. I am also sure your roads are prefectly paved the way they should be for all the taxes we pay. Your right maybe we should all move and leave you holding the bag.The only people leaving in the TOH who don't complain are those who are renting illegally or have a job in the town or are blind. No scratch the blind part because even the blind are complaining about this mess.

  3. Don't have a basement apartment, not paying any illegal workers, I enjoy paying high taxes, my roads are perfect, don't have a job at the TOH & I'm not blind.

    Keep complaining here - you never have any positive feedback about anything, nothing but complaints!

    If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem - which one are you??

    Stop complaining and do something about it, get involved!!