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Cuomo Vetoes 'Forgiveness Bill' For Area School District

Mahopac High School
Mahopac High School Photo Credit: File

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have offered relief to an area school district that finds itself in financial trouble due to administrative mistakes.

Cuomo vetoed a “forgiveness bill” earlier this month that would have provided the Mahopac Central School District with $3.1 million in relief after a paperwork snafu. The decision has drawn the ire of some local politicians.

“By all accounts, when the state changed the application process for school districts applying for building aid, there was some confusion, and a number of districts submitted applications with errors,” New York State Sen. Pete Harckham said. “This was nearly nine years ago, however. The penalties that are being levied on the school district now are unfairly affecting taxpayers and students who were not even in the district when the mistakes occurred.”

In the 2011-2012 school year, the administrative errors led to incorrect information being submitted for eight capital improvement projects that received state funding. The state legislation would have allowed the school district to forgo having to repay $3.1 million it has received for the projects because of those errors.

A cost report for a capital project during the 2011-2012 academic year was never submitted to the state, which could cost the district $4 million in the long run. Several projects were completed that year, though a previous administration’s mistakes may cost the current administration and students millions.

The gaffe was reportedly discovered last year, when an administrator noticed that eight projects totaling $11 million were never submitted to state officials in 2012. Because that deadline was missed, the district may have to pay back more than $3 million and will lose out on nearly $3 million in aid it's supposed to receive.

The district would still have been eligible for $2.7 million of funding promised by the state for the projects.

As a result of the clerical error, the district incurred steep penalties and has been forced to reconsider what to spend on capital projects in the coming years.

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