Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has appointed Robin Laveman as acting county assessor, nine months after Republican legislators declined to consider her nomination for the permanent position.
Laveman had served as chairwoman of the Assessment Review Commission, which decides property tax appeal cases, since January 2015 when Republican Edward Mangano was county executive.
Laveman continued in the position after Curran, a Democrat who is seeking reelection against Republican Bruce Blakeman, a Hempstead Town Council member, took office in 2018.
"There's been a resolution pending since January for my appointment, so given that has not moved forward, the next step was to appoint me to the acting position," Laveman told Newsday.
"Then hopefully in the county executive's second term, I'll be able to move forward" in the legislative process, Laveman said.
Curran and former Assessor David Moog, who resigned in January, won praise from assessment experts for updating assessments of the county's 385,000 residential properties for the first time since 2011.
Republican county legislators have criticized the Assessment Department for issues including failure to apply tax exemptions to new condominium properties, veterans and clergy members.
Majority Republicans in the legislature also have called the department as difficult to contact.
The department's communication practices were so poor, GOP lawmakers said, that in 2019 they introduced bills to require assessment staffers to answer the phones.
Laveman said she hopes to improve the Assessment Department's customer service and quality assurance procedures.
The department had made "significant progress … but obviously there’s a lot of work that needs to be done," Laveman said.
Laveman said she has been studying to become certified as a county assessor, and expects to complete her required course work by January.
The Nassau County Charter requires certification to occur within three years of a person’s appointment as assessor.
On Wednesday, legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) repeated his call for a referendum for voters to decide whether the assessor should be elected.
"Nassau residents have a right to decide if they want an elected Assessor," Nicolello said in a statement. "It is clear from the County Executive’s attempt to appoint someone who lacks assessing experience and certifications, that the only question is whether the Nassau Assessor will be elected and responsive to the people or a political appointee as the county executive wants."
Curran called Laveman "extremely qualified to take on this new role, having overhauled the Assessment Review Commission’s outdated operations — streamlining processes and procedures for staff and Nassau’s homeowners."
Jeremy May, Assessment Review Commission vice chairman, will become acting ARC chairman.