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Glen Cove defeats resolution authorizing suit against school district over $1M in tax liens

At City Hall, Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke

At City Hall, Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke said the city has "acted in good faith" with the school district by giving it the money the city collects in school property tax. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Glen Cove officials are negotiating with the city’s school district over about $1 million in tax liens after a resolution to consider suing the school district failed last month.

Mayor Timothy Tenke said the city is owed a reimbursement for tax liens it has paid on a 15-acre property, which until 2007 was home to Photocircuits Corp., a manufacturer of circuit boards. The city assumed the liens when the site, which was left contaminated, was assessed at $8 million and should have been reimbursed when the assessment was reduced in 2017 to $2.5 million,  said Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos.

City officials have been demanding payment from the school district and began negotiating with officials last year, city attorney Charles McQuair said. Talks stalled, so, hoping to bring the district back to the table, the city council voted on a resolution at its July 23 meeting to start litigation against the district “if necessary.”

The measure failed on a vote of 4-3.

A spokeswoman for the school district declined to comment on the matter.

“I feel pretty strongly that we do not proceed with litigation against our own school district,” said Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, who voted against the resolution. “We’re using the same taxpayer dollars to sue each other. I think it’s, for lack of a better word, ludicrous.”

Tenke said at the meeting that the city has “acted in good faith” with the school district by giving it the money the city collects in school property tax.

“I had made sure that money was released to the school district," Tenke said at the meeting. "I was promised in return for that they would act in good faith and come back to the table and negotiate. What they have done so far is basically insulting to the city.”

Councilman Joseph Capobianco, who also voted against the resolution, said at the meeting that “any offer [the district] has made has been insulting” and has “no bearing on reality.”

McQuair declined to say whether the city would still consider suing as it attempts to resolve the matter. 

He said Glen Cove is unique in Nassau County because it’s the only municipality where the county doesn’t assume unpaid tax liens, leaving the burden with the city. He added that the city has encountered tax lien repayment issues before.      

“This is a practice that’s manifestly unfair to Glen Cove,” McQuair said at the meeting. “We bleed from this.”

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