Curran considers changing course on tax assessments

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran

After beginning the process of reassessing property taxes in Nassau County — which has not been done since 2010 — County Executive Laura Curran is considering scrapping that plan and starting over.

The new plan would lower the rate at which homes are assessed from .25 percent of what they’re worth to a lower figure, according to a Newsday report. What that lower figure would be has not been determined, but the new plan would help the 80,000 Nassau residents who have not challenged their tax assessments since 2010.

I made a promise to fix Nassau County’s corrupt assessment system that continues to rob taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars,” Curran said in a statement. “The right to grieve will always exist, but the goal of my reforms is to establish a defensible tax roll so the county can stop losing $100 million every year that should be going to parks, roads, employees and programs.”

A spokeswoman for the Curran administration said that an announcement on the new plan would be coming soon.

Under the current plan, which Curran put into motion in March, assessment increases on residential property would be limited to 6 percent annually or 20 percent over five years. The goal was to update the tax rolls, which has not been done since 2011.

In the seven years since the last update, many Nassau residents challenged their tax assessments and had them lowered. This pushed the burden onto those who did not file challenges, including many lower-earning county residents.

“In those [ensuing] years… we’ve seen an unfair shift in the burden of [assessments],” Curran said in March.

But the plan depended on the county’s ability to win assessment challenges against wealthy property owners. Curran told Newsday that data analysis conducted over the last five months and the provisions of a 2011 court settlement showed that doing so would be difficult, which meant little would change.

That belief was reinforced last week when Nassau County Assessor David Moog sent a memo to Curran saying that the current plan could lead to mass settlements on assessment challenges or tax refunds totaling $100 million to $200 million.

Curran would need to get Republican legislators on board in order to change the plan. Frank Moroney, a spokesman for the Republican legislative majority, told Newsday that the Republicans expected Curran to stand by the original plan.

“I am looking forward to working with the legislature to make the changes necessary to change this rotten system that has gone unchecked for far too long,” Curran said. 

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance

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