Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill last week that would allow Nassau County to access more than $100 million to refund the disputed portion of assessments to commercial property owners.
The authorization came courtesy of bill A11216, sponsored by state Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).
The bill creates the Nassau County Disputed Assessment Fund, which gives the county the authority to charge a fee on commercial properties that will go toward covering future assessment refunds but will not reduce the county’s backlog.
Another bill that would allow the county to borrow money through the Nassau Interim Financing Authority did not pass the state Senate.
While he was glad to see one bill signed by the governor, Lavine expressed disappointment the NIFA borrowing bill did not reach the governor’s desk.
“[I] regret, however, that my bill that would have allowed Nassau County to borrow through [NIFA] to satisfy grievance awards which would have saved taxpayers at least $15 million (as opposed to borrowing through the county, which has a poorer credit rating than NIFA) was rejected by the Senate Republicans,” he wrote in a statement.
Efforts to reach state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) were unavailing.
“On behalf of every resident in Nassau County I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for his support and the members of the Senate and Assembly for their leadership in getting this legislation passed,” Curran said in a statement. “Being able to access the DAF is an important step in fixing our broken assessment system, and it could not have happened without bipartisan support both in Albany and the Nassau County Legislature.”
Last month, the two issues were voted on by the Nassau County Legislature, which like the state Senate voted for the creation of a fund for assessment refunds but voted against borrowing through NIFA.
Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, who like Lavine is a Democrat, from Glen Cove, also expressed disappointment that county legislators decided not to borrow through NIFA.
“Now if the county has to bond for it, it will be at a higher rate,” she said after the vote in June. “I’m not understanding what their reasons were for voting against it.”
Borrowing through NIFA would have allowed the county to spread $360 million in tax settlements due out until 2041, if necessary.
But that was the reason why Republicans voted against it: they want to get rid of NIFA as soon as possible, and not have it hang over Nassau for another two decades.
“The vote against the $400 million in new NIFA borrowing was a clear message from this legislature that we have no interest in extending the life of NIFA,” Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said after the vote, according to a Newsday report.
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.