The Riverhead Central School District wants its tax money.
School Board President Laurie Downs went to Town Hall yesterday to ask the city to transfer school tax receipts due to the school district on June 30th.
The district emailed the city but received no response, she said. So she went to the podium to ask personally.
There was still no real answer from the city.
“When will the city release tax dollars due to the school district by June 30, 2021?” Asked Downs.
The board answered the question in silence. Assistant Supervisor Devon Higgins then asked, “Do you have any other comments, ma’am?”
“I just want an answer,” Downs said. “The district emailed you a couple of weeks ago, madam,” Downs said, turning to the manager.
Councilor Catherine Kent began soliciting Treasury Manager Bill Rothaar for an answer. The superior interrupted her.
“To the board of directors, to the entire board of directors,” interjected the chairwoman of the supervisory board, Yvette Aguiar Downs. “We’ll answer your question, but this is just the comment section for you to know.”
City Prosecutor Robert Kozakiewicz interfered. “Just briefly, there is an ongoing process, as the board chairman knows,” he said, referring to the complaint filed by the district last July. Kozakiewicz said he spoke to the district lawyer last week and agreed to call him back by the end of this week. Kozakiewicz said he had scheduled a meeting with redhead on Thursday to discuss the matter and intended to call the district’s lawyer on Friday.
See Preliminary Report: “Riverhead School District To Bring City Taxpayers’ Money Lawsuit” (July 22, 2020)
“As you know, under the Suffolk County Tax Act, we rely on the County of Suffolk to reimburse us for any deficiency or deficiency in an arrest warrant – and this is kind of a detour answer to your question. And that’s part of the Suffolk County Tax Act process, ”Kozakiewicz said.
He said he did not want the city council to discuss the matter with the board because what they say “can be used in the lawsuit against us”.
Downs said the district is fully aware of the Suffolk County Tax Act, which provides the city with a refund. “But you cannot be refunded if you have not paid off,” Downs said.
The city collects property tax receipts on behalf of the school district and all other special districts and then transfers the funds to the districts. Property taxes for the entire tax year – which runs from December 1st to November 30th – are payable in two halves, due on December 1st and May 31st.
According to district officials, the city has paid no more than $ 1.2 million in school district property taxes.
The president of the school board said other cities are collecting school taxes on behalf of the Riverhead Central School District and paying taxes by June 30 as required by law. “And they have to wait too,” to be reimbursed by the county, she said.
Downs said if the city doesn’t pay school taxes to the county, the county will have to borrow money to cover its own expenses, which will cost taxpayers money in the form of interest and tax prepayment fees.
“I understand that this is something that happens over a long period of time, many years,” Downs affirmed. “However, we came to the supervisor and spoke to her several times, at least three times in the senior year, to clarify this because she wants to work with the school district,” Downs said. The school board believes past practices should no longer persist, she said. “Things need to be corrected.”
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