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Laura Curran uses new law to justify delayed assessment notices

Curran is using a new law passed last year to force her to mail tentative notices of reassessment to justify a delay in mailing the notices.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran speaks at Long

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran speaks at Long Island Association breakfast on Friday in Woodbury. A law passed last year to force the county to mail tentative notices of reassessment is now being used to justify a delay in mailing them. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A law passed by the Nassau legislature last year to force County Executive Laura Curran to mail tentative notices of reassessment is being used by Curran to justify a delay in mailing the notices.

The county traditionally has mailed the notices the first week in January to coincide with submission of the Jan. 2 tentative assessment roll and the start of the county’s property tax assessment grievance period.

When the county submitted the tentative roll — the first with new values from the reassessment authorized by Curran — she promised in a news release to begin mailing the notices by Jan. 7. But at least one county source  said they have yet to go out.

Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin, a Republican who has criticized Democrat Curran for a lack of transparency about the reassessment, said Friday he asked more than 200 people who attended his tax forum at the Rockville Centre library Thursday evening if anyone had received their tentative notice. None had, he said.

After Newsday questioned the delay, Curran spokesman Karen Contino said Thursday that the new county law gave the administration until Jan. 31 to mail the notices.

Late Friday, Contino said in an email that notices would be mailed Tuesday to owners of condominiums, co-ops, and utility properties. “All other tentative notices will be mailed over the next two weeks,” she said.

Contino did not respond specifically to a question about the holdup.

“We’ve been making a great effort to ensure that we have updated and accurate addresses for the owners of all parcels to reduce the possibility of returned mail,” Contino said. That included, “getting property addresses validated” by the postal service, she said.

Asked what the problem was, Christine Geed, Curran’s new director of communications, said, “There is no problem.”

Contino repeated in her Friday email, “The Department of Assessment has until January 31st to complete the mailing. We will comply with the law.”

Contino sent a copy of a Republican-sponsored ordinance passed unanimously by the county legislature in August directing the county to mail the “notice of tentative assessed value” within 30 days of the completion of the tentative assessment roll.

The ordinance was intended to force Curran to mail the notices rather than post them online.

Clavin and Nassau County Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury) had demanded in a news conference in May that Curran mail the notices.

Residents had been told in their 2018 notices that the county would not mail the 2019 notices, but would instead post them online to save costs.

That advisory also was posted on the county website. But a Curran spokesman said then that the previous administration of Republican Edward Mangano had made the decision to post the notices only online, and that Curran always planned on a paper mailing.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), who introduced the legislation to mail the tentative assessment notices, called it “laughable” that the administration “would seize upon that as a reason for a delay in sending out these notices.”

He said “continuing errors have just eroded people's faith in their ability to do this process. How are we supposed to trust their values when they can’t get the simple things right, like notices, dates, calculations. It’s astonishing at this point.”

The county has posted the tentative notices of assessment on its website, but they still include an outdated grievance deadline of March 1.

Legislative committees voted to extend the deadline to April 30 and Curran has said the Assessment Review Commission agreed to the extension.


 

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