Southampton Town overpaid school districts from preservation fund, audit finds

11/29/2010 6:31 PM |

In May of 2009, an audit by the New York State Comptroller’s office found that Southampton Town in 2007 had sent $2 million too much in Community Preservation Fund money to help lower taxes in the Riverhead School District, which encompasses parts of Southampton Town.

Now, a new audit from the comptroller’s office finds that the town also allocated a total of $1.8 million too much from its preservation fund to the Riverhead School District between the years 2008 and 2009.

The Community Preservation Fund uses a voter-approved two percent land transfer tax to raise money for open space and farmland preservation, but in 2002, the law was amended to allow certain districts with a high percent of land off the tax rolls due to Pine Barrens preservation to have their tax levy offset with CPF PILOT payments, or payments in lieu of taxes. Initially, Riverhead was the only district that qualified.

The PILOT payments to the Riverhead school district had helped offset some big tax increases in the Southampton Town portion of the district that were due to fluctuations with the equalization rate, which is used to divvy up tax payments in districts like Riverhead that are located in more than one town. But the 2009 audit found Southampton Town used the entire Riverhead district’s tax levy, including parts not in Southampton Town, when computing how much of a PILOT to use to offset school taxes in the Southampton Town part of the district.

The audit also found that the CPF payments were improperly used to benefit residents of the Flanders Fire District.

The new audit, released last week, deals strictly with the PILOT issue in Southampton Town and found that the town did not correctly interpret a 2007 amendment made to the CPF PILOT program by the state Legislature, and based its PILOT payments on the amount of all tax exempt land in each district, rather than the amount of tax exempt land due solely to CPF purchases.

As a result, the audit says, $1.7 million more in PILOT payments were applied to lower taxes in the Riverhead School District in 2008 than should have been, and $35,252 more than should have been were applied in 2009. The 2010 audit also found that the town applied $664,647 more in CPF money than it should have for PILOT payments in all districts combined because it misinterpreted another 2007 amendment to the program.

The audit was requested by state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and state Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor). They had at one time promised to pass state legislation that would have forgiven the over-allocations, but that law never was approved.

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said in a letter to the comptroller’s office that the town revised its procedures for assessing PILOT payments in 2008 and revised its assessments on properties to make sure they qualified for the payments. She said the town will develop a corrective action plan and send it to the comptroller’s office before Jan. 15, 2011 to address any mistakes in allocations to various districts.

The town in 2009 already began a program of “phasing out” of PILOTs to various districts over a 10-year payment plan to make up for lost aid when Riverhead district taxpayers received that extra $2 million in tax relief. School districts themselves do not have to repay anything, since they didn’t technically receive money; the CPF amount was simply used to lower the amount taxpayers in each district had to pay.

tgannon@timesreview.com

26 Comment

  • Right on, Peter! One has to wonder why our local Councilwoman Jane Bonner, and her attorney friend , Rich Johanneson, who is also the Chariman of the Conservative Party of Brookhaven Town, have dug in their heels on this ill conceived project. All the reasons put forth by these two in favor of sidewalks have been disputed as without merit, some of which are totally ridiculous and laughable. Why do they continue to insist they are needed when over 95% of the residents who will have to live with this project are opposed to it? If they are so enamored of sidewalks, why not advocate for putting them on the most used north-south roads, Broadway and north Rocky Point Landing and Hallock Landing Roads which are truly treacherous? Why not destroy the front of their property and put them there? It has been shown time and time again that when one in a position of power and especially an elected official, insists on doing something that hurts their constituents and which are opposed by them, there is money to be made. Is this what is going on? Who will benefit? Definitely not the people on King Road and not the residents of Brookhaven Town who will have to pay for this with increased taxes.

  • “Hey Patd,” where did I write something here about “Rich, his party, or his wife?”

  • The RP Civic Assoc. has the 2002 hamlet survey on its web site, only one error, there are 2 1/2 cars per household. Sidewalks would eliminate parking for anyone in Rocky Point with a typical short front yard, such as on King Road. The town would have to address parking access on the side roads for residents who are being shorted parking, there will be NO on street parking once a sidewalk is installed.
    The survey also suggests SOME people want pedestrian freindly access to the downtown area, the survey has no mention of “Point of Origin”…Broadway, Friendship, Locus, are starting points for many residents who took the survey, the N Shore Beach areas, near the Sound. No King Road resident I have spoken to was sent this survey in 2002.
    My suggestion is to put the sidewalk were the residents who took the survey live, as these are the ones who want it. Residents on King Road do not want a sidewalk. There is nothing NIMBY about this. There are many other reidents who desire sidewalks to walk downtown, who live at the north and east end of Rocky Point area, where the roads are narrow and dangerous. Please call Traffic Safety and ask for one on your block, if you live on a narrow, dangerous road and have children who walk to downtown. The CD2 Rep. in this area seems to have the funding for this kind of project, a tax increase of $8.80 per year for all residents, for one sidewalk, on one road.
    As a resident of King, who is in opposition to a sidewalk on King, higher taxes and job loss of Town employees I suggest HIGHWAY make SOME roads just a little wider, with white shoulder lines. This would keep people in BROOKHAVEN employed and solve the walking problem, with NO adverse effect to ANY Rocky Point resident.

  • North Shore Beach should just form its own ignorant village already and stop embarrassing the rest of OUR community.Rocky Point is a beautiful place to live and you backwards fools who take up only half of the town are destroying any hope of downtown revitalization with your short sighted, limited views.

    Let’s just get this over with already… you guys can form YOUR own lil’ village like Mastic Beach(dare to dream) and fence it off.I think Pottersville is a good name or better yet how about Alboville? That might be a great name . Then the Class of King Rd can park on its front lawns to its hearts desire without fear of persecution from the big bad Gubment(aka Jane) since they’re so fiercely Libertarian and most recently Treehuggers.

    Youre being played by the Devil friend.Do not underestimate the slumlord undertow(or its Queen)in North Shore Beach who want things to stay exactly as they are, cheap and exploitable.

    Youre going straight to hell for this guys.North Shore Beach has got future slum written all over it if it continues down this path so if that be your choice then please incorporate now so we can at least have a containment area for the filth.

    I’m embarrassed for you, if you’re arguing against the safety of OUR kids, then you are on the wrong side of the argument friend.

    Vile.

  • I think Bway/Hallock and Odin/Harding are the best places to start but King Rd is still necessary

  • I really don’t understand what you are talking about. What is your point? No one is saying they want to park their car on their front lawn or on top of their cesspools. Do you want sidewalks on your street? You forgot the other name for Rocky Point – Bonnerville. If you want your children to be safer, ask the Police Department to patrol more often and ticket the few speeders. It will be easy – they speed by about the same time of dayand evening in their blue, black and white cars. If you know them, talk to them about slowing down. Also, read KMS – his/her suggestion is good – white lines on the side of the road. It won’t cost 1.2 million dollars and it will keep some highway people busy and employed.
    Think of it this way – we save a million plus and we don’t have to pay unemployment benefits to our town workers.
    Oh, King Road is not a commercial district to be revitalized. It is fine just the way it is. How about revitalizing the beach? That would be nice for everyone. Your kids can swim and won’t have to walk on King Road which doesn’t have anything of interest to walk to.

  • King rd is a main roadway that ties into our commercial district.

    You do realize that wider roads encourage speeding ….right?
    So that would be stupid, no?

    Ask the folks on the Westchester Dragstrip if theyd like the sidewalks.

    White lines?
    Awesome.

    “Hi, were Rocky Point and were against it.”

    F the kids.

  • There needs to be sidewalks on Broadway between Locust and Narcissus. Have anyone ever tried to walk that stretch of road? Try it at night when at least ONE of the street lights are out. Now add to that snow and or leaves. Not an easy (or safe) task!

  • Abs0lutely.
    All of the major roads in RP are deadly by foot.
    We were trick or treating on King Rd ducking idiot locals speeding by toddlers and garbage cans.
    Completed disregard for human life.

    Whats wrong with these people?

  • Actually I’m glad Janes acting in the safety n best interest of the ENTIRE community (particularly the children)If she caved to the NIMFYS on King rd and a kid got hit, it would be a tragedy.As for the N-S routes, Ive heard this would be the first phase of a larger initiative to do Hallock/Bway/hardng/They need to get money for storm sewers before they rip up NS and do it all at once (fix the beach and the access to town).Also Ive met more than a few residents of King (mosty parents with young kids)who support the sidewalks so please dnt distort the truth.Gotta start somewhere.

  • Peter you dont give a rats ass about TOB Highway workers, trees or safety so please cut the crap …youre just desperate and NIMBY.

    Just keep spinnin’ in the wind pal but you may want to pick out that curb cut soon.

  • Common Sense needs to be utilized here; lay off five TOB employees to save money, but spend 1.2 million on a project that was proven unecessary. So, we’re wasting money, and putting good people out of work. What kind of logic is that? Where did these people get their education from? The proof is in the pudding as I see it written below, you can’t save the beach from mother nature; parents should teach their children safety and not let them play in the street in the first place; fix up the park behind Tilda’s so they have a place to go to; what ever happened to that???? You don’t want a Target or more stores but I see something being built by Khols! Everyone is very contradicting in Rocky Point. It’s not Levittown, you don’t need sidewalks, put the money where it could do better use, keep the employees employed. That would be a better way to start the New Year don’t you think! And Why Not!

  • Dude.

    The install would be done by town employees.
    Repairs too

    Dumb Da Dumb Dumb

    Whatever horsecrap youre spinning by telling people that RP Sidewalks =layoffs for Highway is false and misleading.

    If you want to save money at town hall look at the effing tajmajal senior center Baldassare put in.

    RP needs help.

  • What is your point? What are you against? Sidewalks? Speeding? White lines?
    F the kids isnt very nice. Why would you say that? The kids know how to walk safely and if they don’t, they should stay home. If kids want to walk in front of cars, they will do it regardless of sidewalks. Most kids are more sensible. King Road ties into the LIPA substation and Thurber’s Lumberyard. Also Broadway, but there is nothing there for them – Tommy’s Bar, the Laudromat? the Auto Repair Shops? Better to have the beaches fixed up. Why aren’t they doing that? That would make the community much nicer.

  • Sound Beach is getting sidewalks with neer a peep.
    Guess that layoffs line falls flat… huh?

    Why are you such a NIMBY?

    Take up the beach with Linda.

  • Dumb Da Dumb Dumb Dumb!

    Try this one: Call the TOB and ask why they are eliminating patronage jobs then hiring people back as “consultants” (were are you NSS?)

    BTW if you spoke to Lori…shes lying. Ask her about her TajMahal for the Seniors in Mt Sinai.
    If you want to see where the jobs/money in Brookhaven went try Heritage Park.

    Oh and more more thing there Robert Moses. The money for the sidewalks is Federal and not Town so your whole point is moot.

    Rocky Point needs all the help it can get….King rd is awful and you know it.
    Broadway too.

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