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Campaign reports: Laura Curran got $15,000 from tax grievance firms

The New Nassau County executive has vowed to reform the county’s troubled property assessment system.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is seen on

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Firms that earn millions of dollars each year helping Nassau residents challenge their property taxes contributed $15,000 to County Executive Laura Curran, who has pledged to reform the assessment system, new campaign finance reports show.

Curran, a Baldwin Democrat who took office Jan. 1, got $5,000 from Sean Acosta, who runs Property Tax Reduction Consultants in Jericho, and $5,000 from Shalom Maidenbaum, who owns three local tax grievance firms, according to State Board of Elections filings covering the period Dec. 1-Jan. 12.

The Committee for Fair Property Taxes, a political action committee formed by the county’s largest tax grievance firms, also gave Curran $5,000, records show.

Curran spokesman Michael Martino defended the contributions, noting that Democratic and Republican officials have accepted them for years.

“These are regular donors to both parties,” Martino said.

Nassau County’s “financial mess is intertwined with the assessment mess and everything needs to be fixed,” he said.

In total, Curran raised $142,475 and has $48,742 on hand, records show. Her top contributor was the Citizens for Tom Gulotta PAC, which gave $10,000, the reports show. Gulotta was the GOP county executive from 1987 through 2001.

Acosta, Maidenbaum and the committee gave a combined $46,000 to Curran since she announced her run for county executive in 2016, records show.

  • Curran is hoping to make significant changes to Nassau’s assessment system. Mangano had tried to reduce the county’s costs for property tax refunds. But his policy of offering assessment reductions before tax bills went out created a greater imbalance between those who grieved their assessments and those who didn’t.

She appointed a task force to review the assessment system, plans to boost staffing at the Assessment Department and promised to hire a credentialed assessor to run the agency.

“We have supported many candidates from both parties, and like Laura Curran, we are committed to protecting the rights of taxpayers and reforming the assessment system,” Maidenbaum said.

Acosta said he supported Curran’s proposed assessment reforms. “I contribute to people who will fight for the taxpayer,” he said.

Paola Orsini, treasurer for the Committee for Fair Property Taxes, did not respond to a request for comment. Orsini runs Re-Assessment & Evaluation Services, a Garden City tax grievance firm.

Curran spent $121,444 during the six-week period, largely on staff wages and fundraisers, campaign filings show.

Tax grievance firms were among Mangano’s top contributors during his two terms.

Acosta, Maidenbaum, and their spouses gave Mangano nearly $174,000, campaign finance records show. The Committee for Fair Property Taxes contributed more than $61,000 to the Bethpage Republican’s campaign committee.

Mangano, who did not seek a third term as he fights federal corruption charges, settled property tax grievance cases at a higher rate than previous administrations. The firms collect half of any first-year assessment reduction as their fee.

Mangano did not raise any money during his final six months in office and spent $24,486, records show. He has just over $1 million on hand.

In Suffolk County, new Democratic District Attorney Timothy Sini raised $88,450 between Dec. 1 and Jan. 12, spent $37,085 and has $94,552 on hand, records show.

Sini’s top donor was Amneal Pharmaceutical of Hauppauge, which gave $10,000. Recycler Kevin Gershowitz of Melville, a member of the county planning commission from Melville, Deer Park Industrial Property LLC of Islandia, SVAM International Inc. of Great Neck, GFC Realty LLC of Hauppauge and the Association of Municipal Employees PAC each gave $5,000.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone raised $115,459 during the period, spent $75,662 and has $2.12 million on hand. His largest donors were developer David Mack, John Corr, chief executive of Educational Bus Transportation Inc. and Manhattan 24 Realty Corp., which each gave $5,000.

New Suffolk Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. reported $10,147 in his campaign coffers after raising $1,500 and spending $310 in the Dec. 1-Jan. 12 period.

Campaign finance reports show the Suffolk Democratic Committee still has $300,000 in unpaid loans from seven party supporters that financed the bulk of Toulon’s campaign. Party officials expect to repay the money after the party’s spring dinner.

With Rick Brand

LAURA CURRAN’S TOP DONORS

  • Citizens for Tom Gulotta PAC: $10,000
  • Committee for Fair Property Taxes: $5,000
  • Sean Acosta, owner, Property Tax Reduction Consultants: $5,000
  • Eric Blumencranz, chairman, Nassau County Police Foundation: $5,000
  • Shalom Maidenbaum, owner of three tax grievance firms: $5,000
  • Mohsin Meghji, managing partner at M-III Partners LLC: $5,000
  • Ijaz Ahmad, cardiologist: $5,000
  • Surinder Chabra, chief executive of Agilant Solutions Inc.: $5,000

Source: State Board of Elections campaign reports for the period from Dec. 1-Jan. 12

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