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Hempstead, lawmakers to ask state for reimbursement

Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald X.

Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald X. Clavin Jr. said on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, he will ask the state to reimburse his office for costs incurred when Long Islanders rushed in December to prepay their 2018 property taxes. Clavin said the additional costs, which included computer programming, overtime, printing and security, could be more than $100,000. Credit: Newsday / Stefanie Dazio; Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin has partnered with two Republican lawmakers to seek reimbursement from the state for costs that his office — and other tax receivers statewide — incurred when property owners rushed last month to prepay their 2018 taxes.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, hours after the new federal tax code was signed into law last month, directed municipalities to accept prepayments of 2017-2018 second-half school and 2018 general taxes in the hopes that property owners could claim 2017 deductions for the prepayments. Cuomo’s executive order included Nassau County, which previously prohibited prepayments.

The governor’s move prompted tens of thousands of property owners to flood town tax receivers’ offices during the final week of 2017, with some towns extending their office hours and opening on weekends.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) and Assemb. Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square) said Wednesday during a news conference with Clavin that they would sponsor legislation that would reimburse local governments for costs associated with complying with Cuomo’s executive order. They also said they might seek ways to include financial relief within the state budget.

“The governor had an executive order. We appreciate that executive order, but that’s one more mandate coming down on local government without any type of compensation to go along with it,” Phillips said.

Clavin said his office’s additional costs, which included computer programming, overtime, printing and security, could be more than $100,000.

Oyster Bay Tax Receiver James Stefanich has said previously that the town would likely seek relief from the state. A town board spokesman did not immediately respond to an email asking if the board had made a final decision.

“We’re still accumulating overtime at this point,” Stefanich said Monday. “We don’t even have a handle on what it’s going to be.”

In Suffolk County, where property owners were allowed to prepay their taxes previously, some town tax receivers said their excess costs were lower, though some said it was too early to estimate by how much. Several tax receivers said they did not plan to seek reimbursement from the state.

Southampton Town Tax Receiver Theresa Kiernan said her office brought in two more part-timers to deal with the extra workload. She estimated that the town’s excess costs would be less than $5,000.

“For us, it was a different circumstance,” she said.

Louis Marcoccia, Brookhaven’s tax receiver, said the town didn’t anticipate seeking reimbursement from the state. While he said he couldn’t immediately estimate the town’s extra costs, “it’s nothing that we’re overly concerned about.”

Morris Peters, state division of budget spokesman, did not specifically address reimbursement.

“As a result of the Republican federal tax assault, the Governor put the interest of all New Yorkers first by encouraging local governments to receive property tax payments before the end of the year,” Peters said in a statement. “Localities across the state made dramatic efforts to accommodate taxpayers in the pre-payment process because it was the right thing to do for New Yorkers and prevented further economic harm.”

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