Curran forms Quality Assurance Unit to develop assessment policies

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran held a press conference at a taxpayer's home to address residents concerns over reassessment. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced the formation of a unit to oversee property tax assessment issues last Thursday.

The Quality Assurance Unit will supervise the implementation and creation of policies and procedures at the Department of Assessment, the Assessment Review Commission and the Small Claims Assessment Review unit.

In a statement, Curran said the new unit will provide “a meaningful and thorough internal review of policy and procedures that will ensure the best practices of our departments.”

Ana Sousa, the director of audits and grants in the Office of Management and Budget, has been selected to head the unit and will report to Ray Orlando, the deputy county executive for finance.

The Quality Assurance Unit will assist the Department of Assessment in the formation of procedures and policies that will work to make the department capable of withstanding the changes of each assessment year and be self-supportive.

The Department of Assessment relied on two outside vendors, Standard Valuation Services and Michael Haberman Associates, to complete the reassessment for the 2020-21 tax roll.

County Assessor David Moog said that new quality appraisal and real estate professionals employed by the county will benefit greatly from “written procedures and other recommendations from the QAU.”

Curran described the assessment as an “ongoing, fluid process” that requires updating all the information available on Nassau County’s more than 400,000 parcels with each assessment year.

“The DOA will apply the lessons of the recently completed reassessment for the new year,” she said. “Quality assurance will help us get the job done.”

While the Assessment Review Commission adds new staff to “ensure seamless operations that will ultimately protect the County’s interests,” the Quality Assurance Unit will provide needed “quality assurance metrics and review,” according to a news release.

The department is also currently being audited by Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman’s office.

Robin Laveman, chairwoman of the Assessment Review Commission, said in a statement, “With the county’s new quality assurance unit in place, I’m confident that we’ll be able to fully address their concerns.”

The county is also significantly investing in the Small Claims Assessment Review unit, which is a part of the Department of Assessment and allows residents to contest an assessment after the Assessment Review Commission’s review period concludes.

With an increase in staff, the county expects that each case will be given more attention and take less time to resolve. The county would also like to ensure that the unit has the resources it needs to defend the county in court proceedings and decrease the chance of the county having to pay out a refund.

The Quality Assurance Unit will help the Small Claims Assessment Review unit identify policies and procedures that will help it work more efficiently for the county.

“We will be diligent and transparent, and we will do this right,” Sousa said in a statement. “After almost a decade of a frozen roll, there is a lot of work to do on developing updated written protocols.”

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