FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2011
CONTACT: Francis Zappone, Deputy Town Supervisor
Supervisor Throne-Holst Convenes Tax Forum for Town School Leaders
Focus is on 2011 Property Tax Assessments and Preparing for the 2012 State Budget
On February 17, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, together with representatives from the Town Tax Assessor’s Office and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. met with representatives of 10 school districts within the Town of Southampton to discuss tax issues. The focus of the meeting was twofold: To give school officials a preliminary view of the upcoming property assessment (an issue essential to their budget process) and to provide an update on Governor Cuomo’s 2012 budget and its potential impact on schools and municipalities. The meeting was held in Hampton Bays High School and hosted by Superintendent Lars Clemensen.
Mr. John Valente, Acting Sole Assessor for the Town of Southampton, supported by Deputy Tax Assessors Maureen Berglin and Lisa Goree, presented preliminary data on the forthcoming tax assessment. This preliminary data indicated that although there will be some changes in overall assessment value, the variation among those changes will be less than last year. The overall tax roll remains at about the same level of value and the variation in assessments throughout the Town vary from a decrease of - 3.5% to an increase of + 3.5 % with an overall change in assessments of approximately 1%. These changes, Mr. Valenti explained, are largely the result of new construction and changes in market value.
Assemblyman Thiele spoke extensively about the Governor’s budget with a particular emphasis on the impact of the proposed budget on state aide for schools and the potential impact of the 2% Tax Levy Cap on both schools and municipalities. Mr. Thiele emphasized, however, that the budget, and in particular the Tax Cap, is still a work in progress. Although Mr. Thiele said he felt confident that the state budget would be approved in April, he said the Tax Cap – an idea he supports -- requires broader and longer discussion and some modification from the current proposal.
Assemblyman Fred Thiele stated, "It was important to meet with our local school officials early in the budget process. Our region is facing substantial education cuts in the Governor's Budget that would be unfair to Long Island. Education cuts average about 15% on the East End, twice the State average of 7.3%. I will work with our local school districts to insure that the final budget passed in Albany is fair to Long Island and all regions of the State. In addition, the Governor's 2% tax cap legislation is also pending. It is imperative that all stakeholders participate to insure that a fair and workable tax cap is adopted,” he said.
According to the results of a follow-up questionnaire completed by participants after the meeting, the presentation was considered very helpful to informing the budget crafting process. Additionally, most participants agreed that it is time for serious conversation about shared services between schools and municipalities in an effort to reduce operating costs.
“Public schools face the challenges of increased academic standards coupled with decreased revenues and potentially capped expenditures,” said Mr. Clemensen. “Now more than ever, it is important for districts in the Town of Southampton to collaborate on cost-saving measures and speak to lawmakers with a unified voice. Thursday's meeting was a great step in that direction - the commitment is there to see our way responsibly through these challenges - and I'm thankful to the Supervisor and Assemblyman for agreeing to continue the conversation,” he said.
The Supervisor will convene a follow-up meeting to spearhead two task forces – one, working with Assemblyman Thiele, to address the issues surrounding the current tax levy cap proposal in the Governor’s budget; and a second to address the practicality of sharing services.
In conclusion, the Supervisor stated, “All public entities are facing very challenging financial circumstances. We can best address these challenges by working together. Today’s information session is a first step in that effort. Our work with Assemblyman Thiele addressing the Governor’s proposals budget and in developing mutually beneficial working partnerships will, I am confident, be very productive. Thank you all for being here today.”
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