Curran signs first round of GOP-proposed assessment reforms

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed two assessment reforms into law on Friday. Last month, she signed an updated procurement policy. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed the first round of bills in an assessment reform package proposed by the GOP in July. 

The two bills were approved unanimously by the Nassau County Legislature in August. 

The first of the two resolutions requires the county to release data and formulas that are used to determine the fair market value of Nassau homes. The second bill mandates the county to notify taxpayers of their tentative assessment by mail in addition to email. 

In a memo from the county executive’s office, Curran said she passed the laws because she shares the legislature’s goals of “ensuring transparency in assessment” and agrees that taxpayers who submit applications to the Assessment Review Commission should receive mailed offers unless they have opted out. 

Under the first law, the county must share the formula used by the county’s modeling software, which was created by a Colorado-based company, with the public. 

Initially, the county contended the formula was a “trade secret” and therefore was not subject to Freedom of Information Law requests.  But eventually, the county elected to release the algorithm in the wake of the state Committee on Open Government’s advisory opinion suggesting that it do so due to the formula’s use in making “important government decisions.

A number of concerns have been raised by GOP politicians that the released algorithm was missing two lines that are crucial to calculating property values. 

The second bill is a return to the previous practices of the Assessment Review Commission, which used to mail offers to settle grievances and other important information, but this year decided that all communication with residents would be electronic, according to the county GOP. 

The reform package, coined the “Assessment Bill of Rights,” was formed based on concerns from residents at meetings and hearings across the county,  said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said at a July news conference. 

Other reform legislation proposed by county Republicans restricts home inspections conducted by the county Department of Assessment, limits the Nassau County executive’s ability to change the level of assessment without an amendment approved by the county Legislature, requires mailing new tax impact notices that display the homeowner’s property tax burden using the final assessed value and the proposed five-year phase-in, and tasks the county assessor with holding hearings in each town and city in the county.

An additional bill to require the county assessor to reside in Nassau County is also included in the package. The current county assessor, David Moog, is a resident of New York City. 

The remaining reforms will be heard by legislative committees in September.

“The Majority has fought for months to make the County Executive’s assessment process more fair and transparent. I am happy that the County Executive signed the laws, although there is much more to do,” Nicolello said in an email. “I am hopeful that the remaining six bills in our Assessment Bill of Rights will pass with bipartisan support in committees this Monday.”

 

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