New York American Water Letter from President of the Board

Board of Education
December 13, 2017
Dear North Shore Residents:

At a Board of Education meeting held on December 7, 2017, the Board of Education of the North Shore Central School District, with the support and recommendation of our Superintendent of Schools, acted upon and authorized our attorneys to seek permission to intervene in an action against New York American Water and the Public Service Commission of the State of New York pending in Supreme Court, Albany County.  Such applications are determined by the Court where the lawsuit is pending.

Like many of the members of our community, the School District receives its water supply from New York American Water. The North Shore School District has been adversely impacted by the rates and charges established by the Public Service Commission, which have resulted in a 300% increase to the District since this time last year.  Dr. Peter Giarrizzo, Superintendent of the North Shore Schools stated that, “The actions taken with regard to the taxation of water to our residents is troubling and its impact on the overall tax burden complicates our ability to be continuously mindful of how to build a fiscally responsible budget that balances the short and long term finances of the District with our desire to maintain the strength of program that advances strong teaching and learning for our students and staff.”

The Board shares the concerns of our community members and in particular, those who have been affected.  We will advocate for change and sensible short and long term solutions to benefit our community at large and our student body. 

As the community is aware, with the help and support of our State representatives, including Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman Lavine, the District received $5.4 M in the form of State aid from the New York State Legislature via the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 State budgets, providing some short term relief associated with the loss of tax revenues related to the decommissioning of the Glenwood Landing Power Plant. The purpose of this aid was to enable the District to reduce its annual tax levy through an additional source of revenue; and it has historically been used for its intended purpose.  In fact, to date, the Board of Education has allocated a total of $2,769,519 of this aid to reduce the tax levy over the past four operating budgets as follows:

                2014-2015          $169,519
                2015-2016            $600,000
                2016-2017            $1,000,000
                2017-2018            $1,000,000

Consistent with its intended purpose, the remaining $2,630,481 will continue to be used as revenue to offset and reduce future tax levies of the District. 
We understand the burden placed upon our residents by New York American Water and acknowledge the requests we have received for direct relief.  While we certainly empathize with our residents, it is important for the community to understand that there is absolutely no legal authority for the District to allocate aid received by the State, or any school district funds, to specific homeowners or individuals in the community to offset the costs associated with the water bills.  It would be unlawful for the District to use the aid received from the State for this purpose.

The Board is working closely with Dr. Giarrizzo to build a budget for the 2018-2019 academic year that presents a spending plan that is mindful of the overall tax burden to our residents while maintaining programs and services that enable our teachers and administrators to implement a robust academic program that positions our students for academic, social-emotional, and physical achievement and success.

As a concerned constituency of the greater North Shore community, the Board and Administration will continue to work with our elected officials at the State and local levels, the Legislative Action Committee (LAC), the North Shore community, and neighboring school districts to address issues related to the current matter involving New York American Water.  The District will also continue its ongoing efforts to address the potential loss of assessed value and tax revenue of the Glenwood Landing Power Plant and utility properties within our School District to further protect the District’s operations, educational program and to support our community while vigorously pursuing the District’s rights before the Courts.
The Board invites you to join us at any of our regularly scheduled public Board of Education Meetings and hope to see you at our Legislative Night on January 18, 2018 with our New York State and local officials. The event will be held at the Glenwood Landing Elementary School at 7:00 p.m. and we are grateful to the members of the Legislative Action Committee for their hard work and advocacy on behalf of the District.                

Very truly yours,

Toni Labbate
President

cc:           North Shore Board of Education
                Dr. Peter Giarrizzo, Superintendent of Schools

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