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Mangano to unveil new property tax assessment system

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (Mar. 15, 2010)

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (Mar. 15, 2010) Credit: John Dunn

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Wednesday is expected to unveil shifts in the county's unpopular property tax assessment system by ordering commercial owners to complete their paperwork by Oct. 1 and to have all homes and businesses revalued every four years instead of annually.

Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Mangano was to sign an executive order creating the four-year cycle as a way to stabilize values, rather than surprising homeowners with different assessments every year. The change - his first salvo toward revamping the system - also is intended to save money now spent developing new yearly assessments.

Taking aim at the high costs of commercial tax protests, the county executive at a Mineola news conference also was expected to target business owners, who collect more than 80 percent of the $100 million Nassau pays annually in tax refunds.

Mangano was to order commercial owners to submit appraisals and other information by Oct. 1 so their challenges can be settled before refunds are due.

Currently, most commercial lawyers do not submit justification until their case goes to court, years after the protest is filed. This delay boosts the size of any refund owed while raising lawyers' fees.

Borrowing to pay tax refunds pushed the county close to bankruptcy in 1999. Nassau's 2003 countywide reassessment, followed by annual updates, was supposed to reduce tax protests, but about 125,000 commercial and residential challenges continue to be filed every year. Mangano said Nassau budgets another $150 million a year to pay off the $1.1-billion debt resulting from tax refunds.

"Nassau County taxpayers are in a state of emergency," Mangano said in a news release. "We're taking actions that will relieve taxpayers of a system that wastes taxpayer money."

Legis. Wayne Wink Jr. (D-Roslyn) said he had doubts about the proposed change in the assessment schedule. Wink pointed out that though he hadn't seen the details of Mangano's proposal, he said, "My initial impression is it's a Band-aid approach at best."

"I think that there are many other steps that should be taken before we scrap the annual assessment system, which has been described by state and other assessment experts as the gold standard," Wink said.

Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), who long supported a freeze on values, said, "This marks the end of the billion-dollar experiment. Annual reassessment has been a dismal failure."

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