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GOP extends deadline for new Nassau tax notices

The county assessor can have two extra weeks to send notices to Nassau homeowners revealing the potential impact of a countywide reassessment, an extension granted by majority Republicans after the assessor said he would need more time to comply with a Nov. 1 deadline set in a proposed bill.

Last week, a legislative committee approved a bill requiring the hypothetical impact of the county's planned reassessment to be included in assessment disclosure notices, which are expected to be mailed Nov. 1 to Nassau homeowners and businesses. County Assessor David Moog told county lawmakers last week he would need seven weeks to complete the task. The 19-member legislature will vote on the legislation and deadline extension at its meeting Monday.

Last month, County Executive Laura Curran said she would reduce the level of assessment at which homes are to be assessed from 0.25 to 0.1 percent, angering lawmakers who fear the tax bills of residents who have successfully grieved their taxes would face more severe increases under the .1 percent ratio.

Curran, who previously vowed to stick with a 0.25 percent ratio, said reducing the ratio would produce a more accurate assessment roll that could be defended in court. The level of assessment is a fraction of the property's market value and is used to calculate tax bills.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said the administration lowered the ratio "in order to get around the New York State cap on assessment increases. As a result, the administration has exposed 95 percent of Nassau County residents to potentially ruinous tax increases."

"They have deliberately decided to put as little information as possible in the notice," Nicolello added. "The notices will tell taxpayers nothing about what the effect of their new assessed value will be on their taxes. Worse than that, the notices will deceive many taxpayers into thinking their taxes are going to go down, because they will see a lower assessed value." 

Karen Contino, a county spokeswoman, said “Transparency is the No. 1 priority as County Executive Curran moves to correct the county’s corrupted assessment roll and fix the broken assessment system. As County Assessor Moog stated, it will take seven weeks to complete these detailed tax impact calculations, and we will do it."

She added, "Unfortunately, the legislature has resorted to scare tactics and misinformation."

Nicolello also said his caucus is demanding the county executive and county assessor schedule public hearings in each of the county's 19 legislative districts. "They need to give the people of Nassau County a chance to be heard on this issue," he said.

The tentative assessment roll is to be finalized Jan. 1.

"The vast majority of homeowners will see a lower assessed value in the notice that the administration is sending out," Nicolello said. "But this tells residents nothing about what the impact will be on the taxes. The truth is that tens of thousands of Nassau County residents will see large increases in taxes, and that is what the administration wants to hide."

Some lawmakers last week urged Curran to slow the process. Two Democrats criticized her approach. Legis. Delia DeRiggi Whitton (D-Glen Cove) described the plan as "borderline reckless" and said people who grieved their assessment over the years fear they may "be getting hit quite severely."

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) said she feared the lack of transparency could create "large mass hysteria across Nassau County."

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