Nassau County Executive Laura Curran touted her fight to fix Nassau's "corrupted assessment roll" in a $90,000 taxpayer-funded mailer — part of an effort, she said, to educate residents about the county's reassessment.
The county sent out 400,000 mailers featuring a photo of Curran and County Assessor David Moog, published in color with a matte finish.
The mailer contains the locations of four satellite offices where staff members will answer questions about the assessment process and provides a link to a county website with various resources.
“It’s so important to communicate with our constituents about why we’re in the mess we’re in, and what we’re doing to get out of this mess,” Curran, a Democrat, said in an interview.
Curran unfroze the tax rolls in March and ordered the reassessment of all county properties.
“With assessment there is a lot of confusion, and the more we can educate our constituents about this very important change that we're making, this whole reassessment, I think you’ve got to let people know,” Curran said.
In September, Curran lowered the level of assessment from 0.25 percent to 0.1 percent in order to arrive at a more accurate tax roll. The change in the level of assessment — the fraction of home value used to calculate tax bills — has prompted criticism from some Democratic and Republican lawmakers who say tax bills of residents who have grieved or are underassessed would rise more sharply with the lower fraction.
Curran, who campaigned last year against frivolous county mailers and has requested her name not be put on county signs, noted that her name is on the mailer only once and the photo of her is a "news photo" and "action shot" from a news conference, rather than a portrait.
She pointed out that her mailer notes it was financed through the general fund, to show taxpayers where in the county budget the money came from.
A quote on the back of the mailer is attributed to the "Nassau County Executive," while another is from "Nassau County Assessor David Moog."
Curran said mailers are useful if they're focused on public safety or changes in county procedures. "This is exactly what a mailer should be for," she said.
Legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) called the mailer a "little misleading" because it refers to a five-year assessment phase-in that will require approval of the State Legislature.
The mailer says Curran "will ensure a five year transition for taxpayers so that no one is hit hard and everyone is protected by a new cap."
"How do you say you're going to ensure that?" Nicolello asked. "Who knows what Albany's going to look like, whether they're going to be open to something like that?"
Legis. John Ferretti Jr. (R-Levittown) said Curran's mailer has prompted him to produce a mailer to residents of his district about the assessment issue. The mailing, which highlights the uncertain status of the state legislation, will cost county taxpayers more than $8,000.