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Long IslandNassau

Officials: Special district budgets on the rise

Lowering tax assessments will have little effect on how much taxpayers pay for special districts because their budgets are not getting any smaller, officials said Monday.

"I can't see it affecting anything," said Jeffrey LoSquadro, past president of the Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners Association, which represents independent water suppliers. "The only thing I see it doing is raising the blood pressure of taxpayers."

Laura Mallay, executive director of Residents for Efficient Special Districts, a nonprofit group seeking to cut taxes by consolidating districts, said there is a misconception of what assessment means.

"It's the tax rate that determines how much people pay in taxes," Mallay said. "Those are set by the budget. As long as budgets increase, taxes increase, no matter what they do with assessment."

This week, the Nassau tax assessor is notifying most county property owners that their assessments are dropping. The effort aims to correct inequities and cut the amount of money the county pays each year for successful tax challenges.

But because government agencies need to maintain the same amount of revenue they've been collecting, tax rates are expected to go up, officials said.

"Reduced assessment makes people feel good, but it's not going to reduce taxes," said Harvey Levinson, Nassau's former tax assessor.

Levinson said special districts would not be affected by the change "any more than anybody else."

Special districts, the tiny units of government that handle services such as garbage pickup and water hookups for specific areas, have come under fire in recent years because of spending abuses. A new state law to make it easier to dissolve special districts and other units of government goes into effect in March.

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