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Laura Curran: Aide responsible for erroneous robocall

Jack Bart along with other property owners lined

Jack Bart along with other property owners lined up at the Nassau County assessor's office after they were alarmed about a robocall that went out to 400,000 households in the county on Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Wednesday said a top aide was responsible for the decision to send an erroneous robocall that sent hundreds of seniors to the county assessor's office Tuesday.

The message, which went out about 6 p.m. Monday to some 400,000 households, was intended for about 3,500 seniors who according to county records were due a reminder to apply for the property tax exemption.

"As promised I conducted a review of the process behind the robocall that was sent on the evening of Monday, December 10,” Curran said in a statement released just after 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"I have found that despite a glitch in our database of seniors eligible for the senior tax exemption that made the data incompatible with our mass call system, my Communications Director, Michael Martino, authorized the countywide call in an effort to ensure that we reached eligible seniors,” Curran said.

Curran said future robocalls will require two approvals.

Hundreds of taxpayers, primarily seniors, packed into areas outside the county assessor's office Tuesday after the robocall spread confusion about whether they would qualify for tax exemptions.

Martino, who has worked for Curran since she took office Jan. 1, took responsibility Wednesday for authorizing the call, but also said there “was a glitch" in a database.

“I apologize to all of our seniors and County Executive Curran for causing this confusion," Martino said in a message that accompanied Curran's statement. "As head of communications I always want to be clear how we communicate and interact with the public.”

Martino sent out a second robocall at 10 a.m. Tuesday telling residents to disregard the initial one, but by then some taxpayers already were at the assessor's office.

Curran had visited the office Tuesday afternoon to apologize personally to residents.

“Again, I apologize for the incident,” Curran said Wednesday.

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