Things are moving forward to find some assistance for North Rockland County taxpayers after community members had a meeting at the governor's office.
The North Rockland Debt Relief Committee delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures from members of the North Rockland community requesting help for the school district.
Assemblymembers Kenneth Zebrowski and James Skoufis arranged a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the North Rockland Debt Relief Committee to discuss how the state can assist the school district with their mounting debt crisis.
The meeting provided an opportunity for the North Rockland residents to explain the impact that the tax certiorari bonds are having on the tax base, school budget and financial outlook of the district.
The North Rockland School District has been dealing with unique tax challenges as a result of having to pay off their $224 million debt, the largest tax certiorari refund in state history.
Residents have faced a decade long struggle that has resulted in property tax bills doubling, budget cuts and an impending depletion of reserve funds.
Since the closing of Lovett and tax challenges presented by Bowline, the annual tax revenue from the two power plants has decreased from $46 million to now just $2.1 million.
The legislators have been fighting for additional state aid and have joined with the advocacy group to seek long-term solutions for the systematic issues that North Rockland faces.
The North Rockland Debt Relief Committee is comprised of members of the North Rockland PTA, North Rockland Board of Education, Central Administration, Teachers Union and concerned community members.
Their group organized a successful petition drive and gathered over 10,000 signatures in just eight weeks.
They are committed to working with elected officials in seeking solutions to help the North Rockland School District.
“The loss of the power plant tax payments coupled with the annual bond payment has crippled the tax base leading to an impending crisis. We have been successful in the past with securing additional aid for the district but we need a long term solution. We need to be creative about how we help the district move forward; there is no single answer. This will require additional aid, inclusive energy programs and other unique ways to relieve the district’s mounting debt service,” said Zebrowski.
"North Rockland stakeholders and I will not rest until the community gets significant, much-needed state relief," said Skoufis. "The meeting with the Governor's office is the latest effort to work toward that end. I'll keep fighting until the state steps in, does the right thing, and ensures a viable future for North Rockland students and taxpayers."
“The North Rockland Debt Relief Committee and the North Rockland School District thanks Assemblyman Zebrowski and Assemblyman Skoufis for arranging today's important meeting and thanks them for their continued support. We found the members of the Governor's team to be very attentive and they were duly impressed by the presentation of the 10,000 plus signatures on the petitions. We look forward to future collaboration with the State to resolve the school district’s financial crisis. We stressed the uniqueness of this particular situation and it is our belief that the message was received,” said the North Rockland Debt Relief Committee.
The Governor’s staff was supportive and promised to work with Zebrowski and Skoufis on how the State can assist the North Rockland School District.