Uncontested North Shore BOE candidates face LIPA tax loss

Uncontested North Shore BOE candidates face LIPA tax loss
Left to right: James Svendsen, Lisa Colacioppo, Maria Mosca. (Courtesy of the candidates)

Incumbent Trustees Lisa Colacioppo and Maria Mosca and newcomer James Svendsen are running for three seats on the North Shore Board of Education in the uncontested May 21 election.

Due to the sudden resignation of Trustee Marianne Russo, the elected trustee with the lowest number of votes will finish out the rest of her unfinished term and serve a shortened period on the board for one year. The other two elected trustees will serve three-year-long terms.

An issue top of mind for candidates is the $2 million loss of LIPA tax contributions due to a recent settlement between Nassau County and Long Island Power Authority. The settlement will reduce the taxes LIPA pays for its Island Park and Glenwood Landing power stations by approximately 46.5% over the next five years, thus eradicating a large source of revenue for the North Shore district.

Incumbent Colacioppo said she is worried about the long-term effects of the LIPA tax losses.

Colacioppo has lived in Sea Cliff for seven years and has been a North Shore Nassau County resident for about 15 years. She has one child, a sixth-grader, in the district.

She said balancing financial success and high-quality patient care during her account management career at a healthcare company is similar to balancing fiscal responsibility and academic advancements as a board member. She said she looks forward to using her auditing expertise to help oversee the upcoming audit of the Special Education Department.

As a trustee, she has aided in the hiring process for several administrators, including the current superintendent of schools, the assistant superintendent for business, two principals and one interim principal, Colacioppo said. If re-elected, she said she looks forward to helping the hiring process of a new Glen Head Elementary School principal.

While some board members, including Trustee Dave Ludmar, said they have pushed for the tax levy increase to be closer to the tax cap, Colacioppo said she is torn on the issue. She said she worries that having too small a tax levy increase might lead to dips in the district reserves.

“I do worry about going too low in the reserve, but I also think the…homeowner is facing a much larger tax burden than they did 15 or 20 years ago, so I do understand and appreciate the proposal from the administration to keep the tax levy as low as possible and I did agree with it ultimately,” Colacioppo said.

Both Colacioppo and incumbent Mosca mentioned the possibility of an $8 million loss in the 2027-2028 school year budget due to long-term effects of the LIPA tax losses.

Colacioppo said the district needs to ask the state and county for more financial help. She said community members need to come together to advocate on the district’s behalf and that the administration might need to look to other solutions to mitigate the LIPA loss, such as revenue generation.

Mosca said she would assist in efforts to generate revenue and make budget cuts with the least impact.

Mosca has been a Sea Cliff resident since 2015, when she moved to the North Shore from Long Beach. She has one daughter, an eighth-grader, in the district.

Prior to her tenure as a board member, Mosca worked in IT at Columbia University, where she fell in love with the world of education.

“[I] just loved the educational environment, the whole idea of…the power of education in the human condition,” Mosca said. “It’s such an exciting, hopeful place to work.”

Like Colacioppo, Mosca said she was torn on whether to increase the tax levy closer to the tax cap. She said she supports the current administration’s handling of the LIPA tax loss and believes it is a solid budget proposal.

“I take my trustee hat on and off. I never forget that I’m also a taxpayer,” Mosca said. “I think [the budget proposal has] been very balanced.”

She said the burden of school taxes has already increased so much for taxpayers from 53% to more than 80% of the tax burden that she understands why administration would want to mitigate further impacts on residents.

“I’m in the unique position of being an older parent who still has a young student in school, which enables me to balance very carefully and thoughtfully keeping our educational program the strongest it can be at the same time that I am extremely thoughtful about the fiscal constraints on some of our residents,” Mosca said.

Newcomer Svendsen has been a Glenwood Landing resident since 2016. He currently has two children in the district, both eighth-graders.

While he may be new to the district board if elected, he is not new to the world of education. Now retired, Svendsen said he worked as an educator for 34 years, teaching in schools in New York City and Lawrence and then serving as an assistant principal in Manhasset, a principal in New Hyde Park and a director of curriculum in New Hyde Park.

He said Superintendent Chris Zublionis is doing an incredible job handling the LIPA tax losses and keeping community members informed.

Svendsen said he thinks the budget proposal is a fair one and does not think the tax levy increase should be pushed closer to the cap.

“I’m a lifelong educator. I believe in education. I believe that having people on the board that understand the system better is helpful to the community,” Svendsen said. “I do believe in helping the community.”

He said he has been involved with local soccer groups for around 50 years, coaching various teams, and has volunteered with nearby senior centers and Meals on Wheels programs throughout his life.

Along with the trustee election, North Shore residents will also vote on the proposed 2024-2025 budget.

The North Shore board adopted a proposed 2024-2025 budget of $122,648,900, which is up 1.91% from last year’s budget. The tentative budget is up around $2.3 million from the 2023-2024 budget of $120,354,393.

Since the Glenwood Landing LIPA taxes contributed to the North Shore school taxes, the district is prepared to take a projected loss of $2,388,670 in the 2024-2025 budget due to the LIPA settlement.

But North Shore received a boost in state aid compared to initial projections after the state budget was adopted nearly three weeks late. The district received a net state aid increase of $80,556, according to a message from the superintendent, which will be used to lower the tax levy increase from the initial 3.96% to 3.87%, which is below the 5.63% tax cap.

District residents are set to vote on the proposed budget and elect three trustees May 21 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the North Shore High School at 450 Glen Cove Ave., Glen Head.

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