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Suffolk Supes: Shift in Community College Tuition Tax is Unfair

County Executive Stevy Levy says proposal to shift out-of-county tuition tax to towns in 2012 is about fairness and a response to lack of state aid.

Suffolk County supervisors were the latest to speak out against County Executive Steve Levy's proposed 2012 budget when they met earlier this week in Hauppauge to protest Levy's decision to not pay for out-of-county tuition costs for community college students next year.

Counties pay state taxes for students who choose to attend community colleges in other counties, which is in turn paid to the host counties.

In total, the decision will costs towns over $11 million, according to a report from County Comptroller Joe Sawicki.

The supervisors called the proposal a tax and unfunded mandate on towns — brought to their attention at a time when most of them had already submitted their own 2012 budgets.

"What is most troublesome about this effort to transfer the cost of community college tuition to the towns is that it is not about saving money – it’s simply an effort to shift the burden of the cost to other entities," said Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. "And it’s being done without even the courtesy of discussion, or ample time to allow towns to prepare for the change in expense. The county should be working with the towns, not against them.”

Monday's meeting came less than a week after to call the county executive's budget a "bad joke" on county taxpayers.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell told the Suffolk Times that Levy approached him about his proposal on Sept. 30, the same day supervisors' budgets were due at their respective town clerks' offices.

In defense of the proposal, Mark Smith, Levy's deputy director of communications said that under the current system, towns paying a disproportionate amount of the out-of-county tax would be equalized with the proper ratio of out-of-county community college students.

“We should ensure that some portions of the county are no longer subsidizing other portions that have a larger percentage of out-of-county students," Smith said. "Paying on a town-by-town basis will accomplish this. This is about fairness."

Smith added that Nassau County has been having towns pay out-of-county tuition costs since 2004 and cited four other counties in the state that follow those practices.

"If this was purely about budget, we could be passing along other costs that are legally allowed to be apportioned among towns such as Board of Elections, dredging or emergency services," Smith said.

Rose October 06, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Mr. Wilson, get a grip. You have some good ideas. You are on track with what a lot of people think. But the anger turns your readers off. Be calm like your last remarks & you become interesting.
MARTIN DREW October 07, 2011 at 01:17 AM
smiley ; a school consolidation is in order we need to motivate 60% of the population to force change ...can we count on you as a networking messenger to get the word out . Taxpayers deserve a break ; redundancy is the "gorilla in the room" ..clean up the school power clubs... le$$ money out ; means better programs for the kids ; they are the concern right?
Fred Stewart October 07, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I can't believe Mark Wilson would use the NEW YORK TIMES, well known leftist propaganda rag, as a source for one of his opinions...how ironic! I'm sure the same information could've been sourced from something more 'fair and balanced' like Brietbart or Drudge... I think he's a dove in hawks feathers...
James M. October 07, 2011 at 06:38 PM
While I don't agree with your comments as stated. I do agree that all gov't forms should only be available in English. Although I don't understand why this is new since I can go to any DMV and find forms in multiple languages for years. The cost is not the issue for me. The issue for me is that all street signs are in English. If they can't read the sign they are a danger to other drivers. I'm ok with Social services being translated but they should have to prove residency within the state with 2 years of NYS tax returns and citizenship in the US before they can even submit the forms.
LCDR October 12, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Please, all politicians, do our/your emigrant population the biggest favor you could ever do. Mandate English as the only language, and provide English lessons. Politicians bow to foolish advocates who think they are protecting their people by not making English mandatory.

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