County Legislature OKs tax assessment reforms

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The Nassau County GOP introduced a slate of reforms for the county assessment process in July. (Photo courtesy of the Nassau County Legislature)

The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved the first round of bills last week in an assessment reform package proposed by the majority Republicans in July. 

One of the two resolutions approved requires the county to release data and formulas used to determine fair market values of Nassau homes. The second bill mandates the county to notify taxpayers of a tentative assessment by mail in addition to email. 

Under the first bill, the county will have to share the formula used by the county’s modeling software, which was created by a company based in Colorado, with the public. 

Initially, the county contended the formula was a “trade secret” and therefore was not subject to Freedom of Information Law requests.  But eventually it elected to release the algorithm in the wake of the state Committee on Open Government’s advisory opinion suggesting that it do so due to the formula’s use in making “important government decisions.”  

The second bill institutes a return to the previous practices of the Assessment Review Commission, which used to mail offers to settle grievances and other important information, but this year decided that all communication with residents would be electronic, according to the county GOP. 

The Republican majority created the reform package, coined the “Assessment Bill of Rights,” based on what they had been told by constituents at meetings and hearings across the county, Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said at a news conference last month. 

Other legislation in the package restricts home inspections conducted by the county Department of Assessment, limits the Nassau County executive’s ability to change the level of assessment without an amendment approved by the county Legislature, requires mailing new tax impact notices that display the homeowner’s property tax burden using the final assessed value and the proposed five-year phase-in, and tasks the county assessor with holding hearings in each town and city in the county.

The reforms also include a resolution that would require the county assessor to reside in Nassau County. Currently, Nassau County Assessor David Moog is a New York City resident. 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the county GOP was “late to the game.”

“After eight years of ignoring a corrupt assessment system, the GOP Majority has recently filed a flurry of legislation on assessment,” she said. “I can assure you that any legislation that promotes transparency and avoids consumer confusion I will review with an eye towards signing.”

The remaining legislation in the reform package will be heard by legislative committees in September.

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