by Bryan Burrell
Executive Director of the Rockland County School Board Association Bryan Burrell spoke to the Orangetown Council on Nov 22 about new fees school systems will be assessed by the town to collect schools taxes.
Seven days ago the Orangetown Town Board voted to include a fee on all town residents to collect school taxes. This action surprised me and each of the school districts that are part of the Town of Orangetown. This fee will generate over $200,000 in income to the town. I note for the record that the Town Receiver of taxes budget line is about $250,000.
I have watched with my school board colleagues as public education has come under attack from all sides. Our children deserve the best we have to offer them. I know that each of you agrees. I fear that this new ‘€œfee’€ you are about to impose will be seen as another part of the school tax bill. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that this fee, like bank fees and airline fees are nothing more than new revenue streams. The fees are legal but I haven’t met a citizen that likes any of them.
This resolution states that the fee for collecting school taxes has been waived in the past. It intimates that it costs the town over $200,000.00 to collect school taxes.
Is it reasonable to make this assertion? If so, show me the data.
The school districts were not contacted regarding this issue.
Is it reasonable to expect that the town board would have a conversation with school districts, before they enact this fee, especially if it could save town taxpayers money? I request that the town engage in that conversation before enacting this increase in taxes.
In the coming days the school districts may approach the town and offer to collect the taxes at a much lower cost than that proposed this evening. I believe the town and the school district should crunch the numbers together. If this is truly a fee and not a new revenue stream then let’s all get out our calculators and make sure taxpayers are well served.
Town Board Members, I ask you: If the school districts can collect these taxes at little or no cost to the town, will the town board authorize the districts to do the collection? What is best for the taxpayers?
The property tax cap has forced all levels of government to become creative and still stay under the 2% tax cap. It appears to me that this is one of those creative revenue streams. I request that the town release the total cost of tax collection for both town and school district taxes. I request justification for this ‘€œfee.’€ The Town of Clarkstown now plans to do tax collection without a receiver of taxes. It begs the question: ‘€œHow much money does it cost to collect taxes?’€ It is a question that deserves an answer.
I will do everything I can to educate the public and the press regarding this issue. In the meantime, I have one question I hope all taxpayers will soon be asking. How much does it really cost to collect school taxes? And by the way, doesn’t the town have to incur all those costs just to collect its own taxes?
Kids cannot advocate for themselves. As parents we teach them about honesty, character and integrity. I expect nothing less from any elected official. I hope you all agree.
Bryan R. Burrell is Executive Director of the Rockland County School Boards Association.
RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE RECEIVER OF TAXES TO COLLECT SCHOOL DISTRICT TAXES AT A CHARGE
WHEREAS, N.Y.S. Town Law § 37(1) authorizes the Town Board to impose a fee of up to one per centum (1%) of the amount of all school taxes assessed and levied as compensation for the services rendered by the Receiver to the various school districts relating to the collection of district taxes; and
WHEREAS, historically, the Town has waived such fee, fully absorbing the administrative and other costs associated with the collection of school district taxes in the Town budget; and
WHEREAS, in the course of its budget review process, the Town Board has determined that the Town can no longer afford to absorb the costs associated with the collection of school taxes;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board hereby authorizes and directs the Town Receiver of Taxes and Assessments, commencing with the next school district tax collection cycle, to receive school district taxes for thirty days after the first day specified in the notice for the payment of such taxes at a charge of one-eighth (.0125) of one per centum of the amount of such taxes, and following the expiration of such thirty-day period, to collect same at a charge of five per centum (5%).