Town of North Hempstead officials authorized litigation last week in the event that Nassau County withholds a portion of the town’s sales tax revenue to counteract Fashion Institute of Technology reimbursement costs for the 2004-09 school years.
“Any unanticipated deduction from the town’s sales tax revenue would of course have an adverse affect on our budget and cause the town significant hardship,” Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “The county is now withholding what’s legally due to us this year for current sales tax, for amounts they claim date back more than 10 years ago. This is clearly a move designed to make up for their budget gaps.”
The state requires that counties pay a portion of tuition for community college students attending schools in other counties.
In 2010, the county began asking for tuition reimbursements from the towns of North Hempstead and Hempstead, as well as the cities of Long Beach and Glen Cove.
FIT is a SUNY community college based in Manhattan and according to Newsday, Nassau and Suffolk counties pay about $10,000 per student in out-of-county fees.
Trottere said the county began taking some of the town’s sales tax revenue without asking, otherwise known as a “set off.”
In 2010, the town sued the county for taking the sales tax money, but in 2015, the state Court of Appeals ruled the county could use the “set off.”
During litigation, Trottere said, the Town of Hempstead found discrepancies in the amount it was being charged by the county.
This led to a second round of litigation that is still ongoing in which North Hempstead asked for an accounting of the claims to see how the amount of money was determined.
Trottere said the town has paid $4.5 million of the almost $5.8 million it has been charged by the county since 2010 through withheld sales tax revenue.
Last year, the county sent a letter to the town saying it intended to collect $5 million in reimbursement money for the school years between 2004 and 2009.
“It really doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin told Newsday. “They should go into court and say it rather than self-helping themselves to this money based on a claim that is 12 years old.”
According to Newsday, the county is seeking $7.5 in FIT reimbursements in 2016 from the municipalities.