A view of Levittown in January.

A view of Levittown in January. Credit: Johnny Milano

A Jericho homeowner who successfully challenged Nassau County's $355 tax map verification fee last month has filed a new motion seeking to hold the county in civil and criminal contempt for continuing to collect a reduced fee of $270.

In March 2020, a state Supreme Court justice overturned the county's tax map verification fee, calling it "unlawful and unconstitutional." Nassau appealed, and last month a four-judge state appellate court panel unanimously affirmed the lower court's decision. 

The county Assessment Department collects the fee for verifying a property's section, block and lot during real estate transactions. It's a major revenue generator for the county; Nassau budgeted $45 million in revenue from the fee this year, and collected more than $57 million in 2021, during the real estate boom.

At Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's request, the Nassau County Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, voted on April 24 to reduce the fee to $270.


  • Nassau County's $355 tax map verification fee faces another legal challenge after the county reduced it to $270 in April.
  • In March 2020, a state Supreme Court justice overturned the fee. An appellate court panel unanimously affirmed the lower court's decision last month.
  • A homeowner who successfully challenged the fee has filed a new motion seeking to hold the county in civil and criminal contempt for continuing to collect it.

On Tuesday, Jason Giaimo, the attorney for Jericho plaintiff Jeffrey Falk, argued in an appellate court motion that the fee reduction was arbitrary and violated the appeals court's ruling. Nassau needs to conduct a study, survey or analysis to justify the reduced charge for the service, Giaimo wrote.

"This so-called 'new' fee is an artifice and a sham designed solely to evade compliance with the Judgment and the Second Department’s Decision & Order," Giaimo, whose firm McLaughlin & Stern LLP of Manhattan filed the suit in 2017, wrote in the new court filing.

He asked the court to direct the county to "immediately cease charging and collecting any fees … unless and until such fees are approved by the Court."

Giaimo said the county legislature's action was "in clear derogation of the Second Department’s unambiguous holding that the [tax map certification] fee may not be 'exacted for general revenue purposes' and must be 'tied to the County’s obligation to maintain its property registry.' "

Nassau acted "unilaterally and without any evidentiary support whatsoever, [and] arbitrarily reduced the fee," Giaimo wrote.

Nassau County spokesman Chris Boyle said in a statement: “After the litigation was resolved, the County Executive took decisive action to reduce the fee to ensure it reflects the estimated costs of the department of assessment and [the Assessment Review Commission] and is in line with current [state] Supreme Court filing fees.”

In March 2020, state Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Brown ruled the fee was "unlawful and unconstitutional."

On April 19, the four-judge panel of the state's Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, wrote: "The fees imposed … were excessive and improper, as they were exacted for general revenue purposes and not tied to the county’s obligation to maintain its property registry."

Nassau County Budget Director Andrew Persich said at the April 24 legislative hearing that he determined the new $270 fee by dividing the total cost to run the Nassau County Assessment Department and the Assessment Review Commission — roughly $24 million — by the average number of real estate transactions requiring the certification, about 85,000 annually.

Giaimo disputed that reasoning in the new court filing: "The Nassau County Budget Director, Andrew Persich, in conjunction with Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, created the new $270 fee out of thin air, and now seek to justify it through back-of-the napkin math."

Nassau County Clerk Maureen O'Connell, a Republican, in 2017 called the $355 fee "outrageous, punitive," and "immoral."

In an interview Wednesday, O'Connell said her office verifies the section, block and lot of all deed filings.

"We already provide that service that the homeowner and the taxpayer is paying for here in the [clerk's] office," she said. "We verify it internally here."

The Assessment Department provides a letter that also verifies the section, block and lot, but O'Connell said her office doesn't need it because it relies on the Nassau County Land Index to verify those details.

"It is a redundancy, and that's why the court said it's an illegal fee," O'Connell said.

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