I am writing in response to the recent Opinion pieces by former Nassau County Assessor Harvey Levinson ["Nassau's sleight of hand on taxes," Sept. 13] and by John Brooks ["Cleaning up the assessment mess," Oct. 16]. Although they advocate intriguing remedies to the assessment crisis facing Nassau, they essentially miss their targets. Let's tackle the problem head-on.
A solution could include assessment settlement days, which would involve alternative dispute resolution to reduce the backlog. Also, the Department of Assessment could hold more town meetings and seminars, so that people better understand assessment and taxation.
The Department of Assessment and the Assessment Review Commission should also give priority to settling disputes over commercial parcels; that is where the big money is. We need new and competent leadership in the three entities associated with assessment: the Department of Assessment, the Assessment Review Commission and the county attorney's office. And finally, we should streamline the management structure to emphasize accuracy, speed, creativity and caring.
Oh yes, let's also pay our backlogged residential and commercial refunds through the use of current operating funds and not through still another bond issue. Bonding is like a credit card; you must be careful how you use it.
Ideas are certainly out there to solve the county's assessment crisis. We just need the political will and vision to see the reforms through.
David H. Stonehill, Merrick
Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer and a former real property tax specialist for Nassau County.