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Laura Curran plans reassessment of county properties before Jan. 1

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Wednesday, Jan.

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

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday she expects to complete a full reassessment of all properties in the county by the time a new tentative tax roll is issued on Jan. 1, 2019.

The full reassessment will build on an already completed review of county values by two outside appraisal firms, she said. The state will add key data, while an in-house task force and a new “assessment czar” will guide the effort, county officials added.

Curran was scheduled to outline her plans in a speech to the Nassau County Village Officials at the Westbury Manor Tuesday night.

“The assessment system is in a shambles,” Curran said in prepared remarks.

She pointed to Newsday’s “on point” reporting about the decision by the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano to freeze assessment increases while granting reductions, year after year, to property owners and tax appeal firms that filed challenges. The result was increased taxes for those property owners who did not appeal.

An 18-month Newsday investigation, which included an extensive series of data analyses, revealed how Nassau County’s sweeping tax overhaul had in effect created two different property assessment systems — separate and unequal — and a $1.7 billion shift in tax burden overwhelmingly onto lower-valued homes and office buildings.

The investigation found that owners of politically connected tax-appeal businesses were chosen to help craft the overhaul, which stimulated an estimated $500 million in business for such firms.

It also found the overhaul largely reversed years of effort to improve the accuracy and fairness of Nassau’s assessments, which began with the county’s 2000 settlement of a lawsuit alleging it had overtaxed homeowners in minority communities.

Nassau had updated values after the 2003 countywide reassessment until Mangano, a Republican, froze assessment increases in 2011.

Curran, a Democrat, has created an assessment task force composed of Chief Deputy County Executive Helena Williams; deputy county executive for finance Mark Page; deputy county executive for compliance John Chiara; County Attorney Jared Kasschau; legislative Republican Majority Counsel Chris Ostuni; and Democratic legislative minority counsel Peter Clines.

Curran noted that two local appraisal firms, hired under Mangano, had done a “systematic review” of the county’s assessments. She said the state office of real property tax services has agreed to assist Nassau in providing data about costs and depreciation.

Curran spokesman Michael Martino also said Curran had hired an assessment czar, Ann Margaret Barriga. She had worked previously on assessment for former Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who now represents the Third Congressional District.

Presiding officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said of the planned reassessment, “Whatever is proposed must be fair to the already overburdened property taxpayers.”

Minority leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said, “We hope it actually produces a fair assessment which gives taxpayers an accurate tax rate.”

Adam Barsky, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s financial control board, said through a spokesman: “It is an important issue that the county must get its arms around in order to reduce the large amount of tax refund claims and its negative impact on the budget.”

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