File an assessment appeal on a home.
Accept a settlement offer from Nassau’s Assessment Review Commission.
File an appeal the next year, and every year thereafter, and it’s likely that reductions will keep coming — as long as the home automatically is “carried forward” in the pack of annually negotiated reductions.
But the party stops if the property is put on the market, or the owner applies for a building permit. Or if, among other things, the owner skips an appeal.
Then the pack receiving reductions still keeps moving. But that homeowner — and that essentially automatic reduction each year — gets left behind.
A Sunday Newsday report kicked the tires on Nassau’s “Carry Forward” policy and found it to be as inequitable as the county’s entire assessment system has become.
For one, the typical homeowner who accepted a settlement in 2010 — the first year of Republican County Executive Edward Mangano’s assessment system overhaul — and filed appeals every year through 2015 ended up saving 20 percent of what they would have paid over that time.
If the homeowner fell out of the Carry Forward pack at least once over that time period, the reduction amounted to 17 percent.
And homeowners who waited to begin annual appeals after 2010 didn’t get the full benefit of the automatic reductions.
But let’s say that every homeowner accepted a commission settlement in 2010, and that they wanted to ensure that they never fell out of the Carry Forward pack.
Would that have been possible?
The answer is no, according to Newsday’s reporting — because criteria for staying in the pack and, just as important, actions that would disqualify a property from the policy, were not made public.
That made it impossible for a homeowner to know that acts as simple as listing a home, selling one, going for a building permit or skipping an assessment appeal could end up impacting potential reductions.
That’s neither equitable, nor fair.
Then again, neither is the way Nassau handles assessment in so many other areas, as a series of reports by Newsday’s Matt Clark found.
Since Mangano’s assessment overhaul began in 2010, $1.7 billion in taxes have been shifted from property owners who challenged their assessments to those who did not — creating two systems of taxation that are separate and unequal.
Come January, Nassau will have a new county executive, Democrat Laura Curran, who will have to fashion a fix. During the campaign, Curran said repeatedly that she would hire a qualified assessor to replace Mangano’s acting assessor.
What are her other plans? How will she handle the system going forward? “I have a lot on my mind, but I am not prepared to talk about it right now,” Curran said Monday.
Curran did say, however, that she’s looking for something that will be “accurate and fair.”