BOE Discusses District Audit

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Massapequa residents used to the grind of paying excessive property taxes to fuel their children’s education are going to have to dig a bit deepeDSC05083r next school year.

At the October board of education meeting, Massapequa Schools’ Deputy Superintendent, Alan C. Adcock, gave a presentation on tax assessment that left many community members in attendance grumbling under their breath. While it’s acknowledged that school taxes are higher on Long Island, residents were shocked about how much higher they stand to pay in 2015-16.

“October is the month when tax bills go out, and also information comes from Nassau County and the Town of Oyster Bay to the school districts,” said Adcock. “So with the information I’ve received, I thought this would be the appropriate meeting to speak to the public about some things that have happened in regards to taxes this year.”

Nassau County school taxes are split up amongst four property classes; residential properties handle the brunt of the financial responsibility, with rental, utilities and commercial entities making up the remainder. Adcock noted that during the 2014-15 school year, Nassau residents were required to pay 83.03 percent of school taxes, with the remainder being covered by rental taxes (0.04 percent), public utilities (3.83 percent) and commercial properties (13.10 percent).

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(Photos by Chris Boyle)

However, for 2015-16, Nassau homeowners will find themselves shouldering even more of the burden of supporting their school districts, Adcock said. While businesses and utilities will be getting a break, residential school taxes will be going up an additional 1.82 percent (for a total of 84.85 percent), while utility and commercial taxes will receive cuts of 1.69 and 0.14 percent, respectively, with rental taxes remaining unchanged.

“Residential properties are paying $2.8 million more in taxes, and those taxes are being taken away from public utilities and commercial properties,” he said. “This has been happening every year for the past 15 or 16 years, but this year was the largest shift that I’ve ever seen in taxes from other property classes and onto the residents. Meanwhile, utilities and businesses are getting tax breaks.”

Adcock stressed that the school district has no control over this, as well as the importance of residents challenging their property taxes with Nassau County in order to procure lower rates. He also noted that the school district’s tax levy increase last year was less than one percent and that they will be making every effort to ensure that the increase for next year will approximate that amount as well.

Marianne Van Duyne of RS Abrams & Co. LLP, the firm that was hired by the school district to conduct their annual audit, held a presentation at the meeting to publicly disclose her findings for this year. Overall, she said Massapequa Schools are in solid shape, especially compared to many other districts.

“Financially, you’re very strong, and I know your ratings were upgraded with [investor service] Moody’s this year, and you have their highest rating for short-term borrowing,” she said. “Your balance sheet is very strong, and that’s something we like to look at, as some districts are really struggling, but you have a nice long-term plan to deal with any future expenses that you may incur.”

Van Duyne noted that there were a few areas for concern, but that the district administration was already following the advice of RS Abrams & Co. in addressing them.

“We did have a couple of recommendations, which we know that Mr. Adcock is already implementing,” she said. “We want to commend the business office…Mr. Adcock and his staff are always ready for us and very cooperative. The audit went very smoothly.”

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