By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Grand Island Board of Education voted Monday in favor of two economic initiatives supported by the town government.
The BOE voted 7-0 in favor of spending $2,500, splitting the cost with the Grand Island Town Board, for a feasibility study of establishing an Island broadband system that would compete with Time Warner Cable, now called Spectrum.
The board voted 6-1, with Trustee Glenn Bobeck voting no, to approve the 485-b tax exemption, giving a three-year tax break to some commercial properties that expand. The motion said Section 485-b of "the Real Property Tax Law authorizes a partial exemption from real property taxation for commercial, business or industrial property constructed, altered, installed or improved."
The BoE authorization for exemption in 485-b program covers a three-year period for commercial business, from 2017 to 2020.
Bobeck said he thought the exemption, supported by the Town Board, would receive more discussion, citing minutes from the joint meeting. "Additional in-depth meetings on this subject are needed," said the approved minutes from the joint meeting,
Other trustees pushed ahead with the vote, with Board Vice President Donna Tomkins saying, "We keep procrastinating."
Bobeck has voted against the exemption every time the option has been presented to the school board in years past. He said granting businesses that expand a tax exemption "will allow any commercial development on the Island for the next three years to get a tax break." He added the last time the board approved the exemption, there were two businesses that took advantage of the exemption even though they would have gone forward with expansion plans anyway, a fact that Deputy Town Supervisor Jim Sharpe acknowledged during the most recent joint Town Board/School Board meeting.
Bobeck said the exemption "puts existing businesses on the Island to a disadvantage" with neighboring competitors who have the exemption. He noted no other school district grants the exemption.
Veronica Connor Middle School ambassador Isabel Buckingham reported the school's Shamrock Shuffle took place Friday, the VCMS Talent Show is April 8, and the Viking Olympics is Friday, May 21.
Buckingham called the Viking Olympics "one of the biggest events of the whole school year and almost everyone from the school comes."
The event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. and will include 10 food trucks.
High school ambassador Adam Frosolone said Monday began the annual Clash Week, a spring spirit week that culminates on Friday with a pep rally and a dance. He also said tomatoes and kale are growing in the school's new greenhouse, and the GIHS Art Club just recently helped the town open an art space in the Nike Base, with hours of operation Saturday's from noon to 5 p.m.
In Other News
GIHS Principal Michael Lauria introduced the Class of 2017's top 10 students academically
"I was very proud because these seniors this year were actually a part of my freshman class when I was the assistant principal here four years ago," Lauria said. "So I remember very clearly welcoming them to the building and welcoming them to the district and encouraging them to take rigorous courses, encouraging them to challenge themselves, so to see them here in this position right now, it's obviously a very proud moment."
The top 10 are: Kristen Atkinson, Sophia Castillo, Adam Frosolone, Owen Morrish, Garrett Robinson, Jessica Surace, Kaitlynn Tuohy, Cameron Watt, Madelyn Webb and Marianthi Vasiliadis. Castillo is the salutatorian and Morrish, the valedictorian.