Acting Nassau County Assessor Matthew Cronin was appointed to the...

Acting Nassau County Assessor Matthew Cronin was appointed to the role in May 2022. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said Thursday he is searching for a permanent county assessor following the resignation of the acting assessor, Matthew Cronin, who led the department for more than a year.

Cronin will become director of asset management for Suffolk County starting July 10, Suffolk spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle confirmed in an email.

Blakeman appointed Cronin to the role of acting assessor, a six-month term, in May 2022. But Blakeman never asked the County Legislature to make Cronin the permanent assessor after the acting appointment had expired.

The role has had some turnover the past few years. Former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran appointed David Moog in 2018, and he served until January 2021. She appointed Robin Laveman as his successor, but majority Republicans in the County Legislature never held a hearing to confirm the appointment. Laveman served as acting assessor until Blakeman, who took office in January 2022, replaced her with Cronin four months later.

The Assessment Department, with about 160 employees and a budget of $46 million, develops an assessment roll for the county's 425,000 residential and commercial properties that is used to compute school, town and county tax bills. 

Cronin "was instrumental in upgrading the office, increasing transparency, accuracy, and fairness in the assessment system and making sure residents always came first," Blakeman said in a statement.

He said a nationwide search is underway to find a new assessor.

Blakeman, a Republican, was a frequent critic of the assessment department under Curran, a Democrat, while campaigning for county executive and since defeating her in 2021.

But under his administration last fall, the department failed to apply a key exemption on 842 homes, causing erroneous tax hikes. The county also inadvertently removed a tax exemption on church property in New Hyde Park, valued at $16.7 million. 

And in March, the county discovered it had failed to apply $139 million in assessed value on 624 homes for the upcoming 2023-24 tax year. The last-minute announcement forced homeowners to race to challenge their assessments, which in some cases were millions of dollars higher than they had expected.

Nassau continues to face significant challenges in getting an accurate assessment roll that does not shift the tax burden from property owners who appeal their assessments to those who do not.

Following Curran's reassessment program that aimed to reduce the number of appeals, the rolls have been frozen for three consecutive years, even as home prices rose to historic highs. The Assessment Review Commission has returned to granting automatic mass settlements, a Newsday analysis found. It's a system that has been challenged in court as inequitable, particularly for communities of color. 

Cronin said in a statement that he is "proud of the work the hardworking employees and I have done to modernize the department, increase training, cut red tape, and streamline services to best serve residents."

Nassau Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport) said she is "increasingly concerned by the administration’s lack of a plan for the Department of Assessment."

"It is essential for the administration to select a qualified candidate for assessor who is laser focused on ensuring property owners pay only their fair share of taxes, and not a penny more," Mulé said in a statement. "We know all too well that qualified assessors are few and far between, and it is a shame that we have lost yet another one."

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