Long Beach BOE Discusses Veterans Tax Exemption

Schools and Libraries

March 6, 2014

The Long Beach Board of Education held a work session on Feb. 25 to discuss the possibility of adopting the Alternative Veterans Property Tax Exemption and options for the post-Sandy location of district administrative offices.

The meeting began with a presentation of certificates of recognition to the district's 58 All-State, All-County and Long Island String Festival musicians. Senior Allyson Golden opened the celebration with a solo rendition of Claude Debussy's "Beau Soir," demonstrating the exceptional talent that qualified her to be named an All-State vocalist. Special recognition was also given to sophomore Max Tunney, who created the design that the Nassau Music Educators Association chose for this year's All-County T-shirt.

Chief Operating Officer Michael DeVito prefaced a presentation about the Alternative Veterans Property Tax Exemption with a brief summary of the district's tax levy limit calculation for the 2014-15 school year, a multiyear financial projection for the district and an explanation of other factors in addition to the tax levy that affect the actual increase individuals may see on their tax bills.

He explained that using the formula supplied by the state, the district's maximum allowable tax limit for next year would be 3.75%. The multiyear projection of expenses and revenues shows there will be a growing gap between the district's operating expenses and revenues. In order to sustain a rollover budget, while maintaining all current programming, the district must dip into reserve funds over the next several years. Mr. DeVito projected the district will reach a crisis level in 2016-17, at which point most reserve funds will be exhausted.

Mr. DeVito went on to explain factors beyond the tax levy that can affect a homeowner's individual taxes. For example, the county has been shifting the tax burden onto Class 1 property owners over the past several years, with homeowners paying a higher share of taxes compared to other classes of property owners. Changes in the tax rate and adjusted base proportions can also affect a homeowner's individual taxes. Mr. DeVito touched on the impact of the county's tax grievance policy, which in effect shifts a greater burden of taxes onto those who do not choose to grieve their taxes.

Mr. DeVito went on to give the board details about the Alternative Exemption for Eligible Veterans that was introduced this year by the state. The district may choose to opt in to offer a tax exemption for eligible veterans, but would receive no reimbursement from the state. The county has identified approximately 640 district homeowners who could be eligible for three different levels of veteran exemptions. Mr. DeVito estimated the additional cost to other taxpayers would be $153,000, which would result in a shift of approximately $14 in taxes to each homeowner not eligible for the veterans' exemption. The board will continue discussions on this issue at the March 11 meeting.

A second presentation, conducted by Heather Fagans of CS Arch, the district's architectural firm, outlined a series of options for the post-Sandy relocation of district offices. If the district does nothing, leaving all administration staff in its current temporary location, it will lose any FEMA funds that would have been available to rebuild. FEMA representatives have cautioned the board that to be eligible for FEMA reimbursement, the district must move forward with a plan in the very near future. The options presented by Ms. Fagans included: rebuilding a raised FEMA-compliant building on the site of the current administration building; relocating some or all administrative offices to a new wing at the middle school; or relocating some or all administrative offices to Lindell School. The board will continue discussions about all options at the March 11 meeting.

To view copies of both presentations, visit the School Board page of www.lbeach.org.