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Cuomo boosts Curran plan for 5-year phase-in of reassessments

The governor tucked the proposal into his proposed 2019-20 state budget, increasing the Nassau initiative's leverage.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled his 2019-20 budget

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled his 2019-20 budget plan Tuesday during the State of the State address in Albany. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is backing Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s proposal to phase in any changes wrought by a property reassessment plan over five years.

The governor gave Curran’s initiative leverage by tucking it into his 2019-20 state budget proposal, which he unveiled Tuesday.

Doing so boosts it in two significant ways: State lawmakers wouldn’t have to vote on it as a stand-alone piece of legislation but rather as one component of a roughly $175 billion plan to fund schools, hospitals and other programs. And the governor’s imprimatur makes it harder, practically speaking, for any opponent to negotiate Curran's plan out of the budget.

The scheduled phase-in would apply to residential properties.

In a memo supporting the provision, the Cuomo administration said it “will allow the county to create an exemption in order to phase in tax bill changes for properties that would be facing increases with the enforcement of the 2020-21 assessment roll.”

A Cuomo spokesman didn’t comment further Wednesday.

Nassau County is in the midst of its first countywide reassessment in nearly a decade. Curran has scheduled some 57 community meetings through April for residents to review their assessments and the appeals process. The reassessment is projected to trigger tax increases for 52 percent of homeowners and decreases for 48 percent.

“The time frame works for a lot of people,” said Christine Geed, a Curran spokeswoman. She called phased-in tax adjustments “more palatable for our residents.”

Later Wednesday, Curran issued a statement saying in part that the proposal would "effectively spread out any relative changes" for taxpayers.

"I’ve made it my number one priority to secure a taxpayer protection plan that would smooth out the impact of the reassessment for property owners throughout the county," Curran said. "I greatly appreciate the governor’s support of our property owners after the first reassessment in almost a decade."

A spokesman for the Republicans who control the county Legislature said they were reviewing the details of how the phase-in would work.

"We only received this proposed legislation this afternoon," Frank Moroney, spokesman for the Republican majority, said in an email. "It is different from the earlier draft sent to us and we need time to analyze this new version to gauge its impact on taxpayers."

A key lawmaker would say only that the proposal was under consideration.

“Property-tax relief for Nassau residents is our delegation’s most pressing concern,” said State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who, at 2½ years in office, is the longest-tenured senator representing the county. “We’ll review this or any legislation that might help.”

Cuomo and state legislators are supposed to adopt a state budget by April 1, the start of New York’s fiscal year.

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