Legislature approves assessment bills; Curran plans to veto

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The Nassau County Legislature passed a number of GOP-introduced bills Monday regarding assessment, one of which would require the county assessor to reside in Nassau County. County Executive Laura Curran plans to veto the legislation, a spokeswoman said. 

David Moog, who currently serves as the county assessor, is a resident of New York City. 

The legislation package, billed as the “Assessment Bill of Rights,” is based on concerns that Republican legislators have heard from residents, Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said at a news conference introducing the legislation earlier in the summer. 

On Monday, GOP legislators passed six bills that implement changes to the assessment process. In addition to the requirement for the assessor to reside in the county, legislators approved a resolution that requires the county to mail new tax impact notices that display newly assessed home values and the effect of the proposed five-year phase-in. 

Other legislation restricts the Department of Assessment from requiring a complete home inspection in order to confirm a specific characteristic of the home, limits the county executive from adjusting the level of assessment, requires the county assessor to host multiple hearings in the county and demands that a live person answer the phone at the assessment office. 

Legislators also approved an amendment to the home inspection resolution that allows inspectors to take note of inconsistencies with the resident’s home record they may notice when walking through the home to inspect a certain characteristic.

Moog said that in order for the Department of Assessment to confirm certain characteristics of the home, such as the number of bathrooms, it requires a complete home inspection. 

Nassau County Legislator Steven Rhoads (R-Bellmore) said that the bill includes language that allows for inspections that are reasonably related to an error. 

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) questioned the majority’s intention to bar the county assessor’s ability to change the level of assessment because he said the current law does not include language on how the assessor can legally change the level of assessment. 

Nicolello said that it was not intended to bar action completely, but for the action to require submission of a local law that needs approval from the County Legislature. 

All measures were passed along party lines, with 11 votes in favor and 8 votes against. 

Two bills that were signed into law earlier this month require the release of all data pertaining to assessment and mandate that the Department of Assessment continue to mail notification of tentative assessments, in addition to email. 

Curran spokeswoman Christine Geed said the assessment package does not offer real solutions or relief and instead involves political schemes intended to “mislead and instill fear in taxpayers and distract from their decade of inaction.” 

The GOP majority “did nothing but watch” as former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration “corrupted the County’s assessment system, deceiving taxpayers and causing irreparable damage,” she said.

“Instead of grandstanding, they should be calling County Executive Curran’s Taxpayer Protection Plan to the floor,” Geed said.   

Home assessment values in Nassau County had been frozen for nearly 10 years until Curran undertook a countywide reassessment in what she said was an effort to make the county’s assessment roll more defensible in order to avoid issuing reductions to those who grieve their property taxes.

The “county guarantee,” a law set forth in the 1940s, requires the county to fully refund property tax overpayments, despite only receiving a small percentage of the overpaid funds, which are divided between the county and the county’s school districts and towns. The towns and school districts get to keep their portions of the overpayment, while the county has to pay back more money than it receives. 

A study conducted by Newsday concluded the grievance practice “intended to reduce costs of tax refunds, has shifted about $2.2 billion in taxes from generally more affluent property owners who successfully appealed their property taxes over their values over seven years to generally less affluent owners who did not.” 

An April analysis from the newspaper found the 2020-21 tentative assessment roll to be fair and accurate. 

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