This morning at , Mayor Joseph Polisena issued what he termed "a stern warning" to homeowners who claim that out-of-town students are living at their homes: "If you're allowing this, you will pay financially — and you will pay dearly."
Polisena announced the town's efforts to identify residential property owners who allow non-Johnston families to claim their homes as residences — and withdraw the town's 20-percent homestead tax exemption and impose a $500-per-day fine on those who are found.
The accompanying video includes excerpts from today's press conference, including Polisena, school Supt. Dr. Bernard DiLullo, and town Code Enforcement Officer Peter DelPonte speaking about the issue.
DiLullo explained that the has added a new class of first-graders at Thornton Elementary School — at the cost of $100,000, in addition to the per-pupil average cost of about $16,000 — caused, in part, by out-of-town families registering their children there.
DelPonte said that, when he is alerted by school officials about a potential issue, he checks town records for the number of families allowed in a home, and typically visits the home to ensure that the owner is adhering to town zoning codes.
"When [school officials] recognize that something doesn't pass the smell test, they forward it to me, and I do an investigation," explained DelPonte.