Following his announcement of an audit of Nassau County’s Industrial Development Agency last week, Comptroller Jack Schnirman announced Tuesday that he would also be auditing the Assessment Review Commission.
“There is a concern that’s been well documented that people are paying more or less than their fair share of taxes,” he said. “People on the same block are paying wildly different amounts of taxes. “We need to look at the grievance process, we need to look at policies, procedures and practices.”
Staff from the comptroller’s office filed an engagement letter with the ARC on Feb. 20. The audit will cover 2015 to present and will try to determine if the ARC is operating efficiently.
The grievance issue is a major focus of Schnirman’s audit. As the county has not valued property to assess taxes since 2010, providing legal help with grievances has become a major business in Nassau.
But those legal services are available only to those who can afford it, and the comptroller wants to see if there is a difference between filings made by homeowners and filings made by specialized representatives.
“We want to determine if there is a substantial difference between regular people and those who can file grievances through the agencies,” he said.
The audit will also determine if the grievance process is in compliance with statutory mandates and review the processes that determine how a grievance is granted or denied.
Schnirman said that the audit will be conducted separately from County Executive Laura Curran’s efforts to reassess properties.
But he stressed that any gains made by the first reassessment in eight years would be lost if the commission’s procedures were not in compliance with best practices.
“We could find ourselves back in the place we are now,” he said.
Deputy Comptroller Kim Brandeau said that it has been a long time since the ARC was audited.
“The comptroller’s office did several tiny little audits in 2004, but they weren’t really audits at all,” she said.
Brandeau added that previous Comptroller George Maragos started conducting an audit in 2015 but it never went anywhere.