The town of North Hempstead is suing Nassau County for the third time over tax revenue withheld to cover tuition reimbursement fees at the Fashion Institute of Technology, for a claim dating back more than a decade.
Oral arguments for the case, pertaining to $1.3 million in chargebacks from the 2004-2005 school year, were heard in State Supreme Court in Nassau County on Wednesday. Justice Leonard Steinman requested that the county submit additional papers on its legal arguments, town officials said. They are due May 9.
The town is seeking repayment for the chargebacks, which were deducted from its 2015 fourth-quarter sales tax revenue, and is also asking for a permanent injunction barring the county from claims for other school years before 2010. The town is arguing that by law, Nassau County is digging too deeply into the past.
“These old FIT reimbursement claims are barred by the statute of limitations,” Deputy Town Attorney Amanda Abata said. “The county can’t come back and deduct these amounts.”
Since 2011, Nassau has billed the towns of North Hempstead, Hempstead and Oyster Bay, and the cities of Glen Cove and Long Beach to account for the difference between out-of-county and in-county tuition rates for students attending Manhattan-based FIT and other community colleges.
FIT offers two-year associate, bachelor and graduate degree programs. As of the fall of 2015, there were 631 Nassau residents attending FIT, school spokeswoman Cheri Fein said. Out-of-county fees total about $10,000 per student annually for Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to a Nassau review of the 2016 fiscal year, the county seeks to collect $7.5 million in FIT reimbursement from its municipalities.
The town is not disputing $702,000 that it was billed for the 2015–2016 school year, which adds up to a total of $5.2 million in chargebacks that the town has paid since 2010. However, in June 2015, Nassau informed officials in North Hempstead that it intends to collect three payments for the school years from 2004 to 2009, a claim of a total $5 million that Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth has called “preposterous.”
In a memorandum filed with the court this week, Nassau said it is within its rights to collect payment, adding that North Hempstead has benefited from its residents attending FIT and is shirking responsibility.
“The town should not be heard to complain about the financial impacts of satisfying a town charge,” the county’s attorney, Carnell T. Foskey, of Mineola, wrote in the memo. “There is no question that the county paid FIT. There is no question that the expense is one lawfully obligating the town.”
North Hempstead is the only municipality to sue over the 2004-2005 chargebacks, Foskey wrote.