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Board Discusses Projected Goals, Effects of Tax Certioraris

Attorney suggests a three-step approach for school districts to deal with the tax certiorari.

Bonnie Gorham, Esq. representing Guercio & Guercio, LLP explained what a tax certiorari is and addressed the history and effects of such. (Credit: Victoria Centrella)
Bonnie Gorham, Esq. representing Guercio & Guercio, LLP explained what a tax certiorari is and addressed the history and effects of such. (Credit: Victoria Centrella)
The Garden City Board of Education (BOE) convened for a work session Wednesday to discuss projected goals and the school district's tax certiorari responsibilities.

Projected Goals
According to vice president Barbara Trapasso, the board attended a conference in August in which they discussed goals they would like to achieve within the 2012-13 academic year.

“There were actually three items discussed; board advisory committees, board policies and board relationships and liaisons,” Trapasso said. “In the past we had a couple of committees that were formed that helped us in certain areas.”

The legislative committee, task force for insurance committee and audit committee are just a few that already exist.

Another area discussed was communications. “The board takes very seriously the public coming to our meetings,” Trapasso said. In consideration for the citizens, the board actually changed its guidelines.

Previously there were two periods for citizens to ask questions at meetings; one opportunity to discuss agenda items only and another to discuss anything else not on the agenda. The board has now condensed these periods into one session to avoid confusion.

“We did this in our September meeting,” said BOE member Robert Martin. “While there surprisingly weren’t any takers, I anticipate that in the budget meetings in particular this will be very active.”

Board members also discussed the committees they would like to see formed through the duration of this year to better serve the community.

“I’d like to see maybe the birth of a technology initiative committee,” said BOE member Tom Pinou. “I think that's important now with all the building now being brought up to high technology standards, with the buildings all being wired up to smart boards.”

The board also discussed those committees that must be reviewed each year. According to Trapasso and fellow board member Angela Heineman, members of the policy committee, policies such as the code of conduct, harassment policies and anti-bullying policies are reviewed each year.

Impact of Tax Certiorari Responsibilities
The tax certiorari now affecting school districts across the state has been a concern not only for residents, but members of the board as well. While in previous years the county has been responsible for it "this burden has been shifted to the school districts, at least for now,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen said.

Bonnie Gorham, Esq. representing Guercio & Guercio, LLP explained what a tax certiorari is and addressed the history and effects of such.

“This is a discussion for a suggested three-step approach for the school districts to deal with the tax certiorari,” said Gorham. “It is estimated that school districts will be responsible for 60-70 percent of tax refunds as a result of the repeal.”

According to Gorham, that percentage equals approximately $52 million affected school districts would have to pay out annually.

One of Gorham’s biggest suggestions was for districts to put money into a Tax Certiorari Reserve Fund ( TCRF), which allows the district to place money aside prior to the end of each school year.

Even if the tax rates rise, this does not mean that the district will increase a profit. “This is a no win for the school districts,” said Feirsen. “We collect not a penny more.”

The next Board of Education regular meeting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Garden City Middle School, preceded by a building tour for residents at 7:30 p.m. The next board work session is Nov. 8 at the administration building.

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