Romaine: Towns will likely be stuck paying tuition tax

Ed Romaine

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine told the Southold Town Board at Tuesday’s work session that, while he’s adamantly opposed to County Executive Steve Levy’s plan to bill individual towns for the $13 million in tuition charges for Suffolk students who attend community colleges in other New York counties, there’s little the legislature can do to stop it.

Those charges have been paid by the county since 1954.

Mr. Romaine said the fiscal structure of the county is in a shambles and that Mr. Levy, whose term expires at the end of this year, is doing a lot of “weird things” on his way out of office.

“Obviously, he’s not making any friends going out the door,” said Mr. Romaine.

Mr. Romaine said that, with 700 county employees slated to lose their jobs and a more than $100 million shortfall in Mr. Levy’s proposed budget, there’s little chance that the legislature will be able to find a way to pay the tuition costs.

Mr. Romaine said he and other members of the legislature have decided, as a fall-back position, to introduce legislation that will make clear on residents’ tax bills that the charges are not coming from the towns.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell suggests that the tuition tax be written up on town tax bills as “The Levy levy.”

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