Nassau County has been named the country’s safest community by U.S. News and World Report two years in a row.
Nassau also now has the highest vaccination rate for COVID-19 among counties in the state – and the second-highest rate in the country among large counties.
The county after years of failing has balanced its budget and apparently is in a position to actually cut taxes without blowing a hole in future budgets.
After nearly a decade in which properties were not reassessed and property values bore no relation to reality, every residential and commercial property has been reassessed so that owners are closer to paying their fair share.
And, unlike her predecessor, neither she nor her top aide has been convicted of political corruption. In fact, there has been no whiff of the illegal activities that marked the administration of Edward Mangano.
So we can say hell yes: County Executive Laura Curran should be re-elected.
The Baldwin Democrat has brought order and sense to a county that needed a state bailout 20 years ago to avoid bankruptcy and has frequently relied on gimmicks to do what virtually every municipality in the state does as a matter of course – balance its budget.
The county’s fiscal management has been so bad that its finances still remain under state supervision all these years later.
Curran also had the political courage to rebuild the county assessor’s office with someone actually qualified for the job and rebuild an Assessment Department that had been allowed to fall apart.
An analysis by Newsday found that under the Mangano administration those who challenged their assessments benefited from a shift in tax burden that reached $2.7 billion vs. those who didn’t.
And homes in predominantly minority communities were assessed at levels up to 12.9 percent higher on average than other homes.
Property owners who did not challenge their assessments successfully during the overhaul are now assessed on par with those who did.
Was the process perfect? By no means. The process, in fact, was marked by numerous miscues. Could they have been avoided? Very possibly.
But at the end of the day the result was fair and those who don’t think so still have the right to grieve their taxes.
County Republicans, including Hempstead Town Supervisor Bruce Blakeman, Curran’s opponent, have sought to exploit the enormous shift in the tax burden that resulted by accurately assessing properties.
Blakeman talks about how property taxes “will soar for an overwhelming majority of homeowners because of Curran’s reassessment.”
This is actually an indictment of the gross negligence on the part of Republican county legislators and the Mangano administration for allowing assessment to grow so inaccurate.
Curran cushioned the increases for those who have been underpaying their taxes and delayed the decreases for those who have been overpaying their taxes by phasing in changes over a five-year period.
Blakeman and county Republicans have also done a disservice to taxpayers by talking about the county’s high taxes without mentioning that two-thirds of that money goes to pay for school budgets that taxpayers vote on every year and most of the rest to towns and special districts.
The county under Curran could do more to raise revenue and cut expenses. But that is not the reason taxes are so high in Nassau County. That is mostly the result of the county’s top-ranked schools, which benefit residents by increasing their property values.
What is Blakeman’s solution? To “scrap Curran’s reassessment plan entirely and start fresh.” In other words, return to the dysfunctional system created the Mangano administration and accepted by county Republicans.
Curran instead offers a fair system and efforts to promote transit-oriented development and walkable downtowns “that attract young people and make life in Nassau better – boosting revenue for small businesses.”
Curran also offers a plan for centers of entertainment and commerce, including the new UBS Belmont arena and supporting offshore wind power projects.
The contrast between Curran and Blakeman could not be starker.
We strongly endorse Laura Curran for a second term as county executive.