Nassau County settled more than 1 million residential tax challenges during the eight-year period in which tax rolls were frozen, new county data show.
The county settled 1,003,434 cases after tax rolls were frozen, beginning with the 2012-13 tax year.
The 2019-20 tax year has seen a record number of grievances filed by homeowners — 218,689 — and 174,281 of those cases were settled, according to the county's Assessment Review Commission. Final determinations were sent out on March 29.
Former County Executive Edward Mangano instituted the freeze. He had hoped to move to a four-year cycle to give the county time to build a more accurate assessment system. But superstorm Sandy in 2012 damaged thousands of homes and delayed the reassessment.
Property owners who won reductions were assessed using a "level of assessment" that was lower than for those who did not grieve.
The level of assessment is the percentage of market value used to calculate home values. Homeowners who did not grieve were assessed at the .25 percent established by the Department of Assessment.
Settlements of assessment challenges resulted in a shift in the tax burden, driving up taxes for those who did not grieve.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, ordered the level of assessment reduced to .10 percent on all residential properties for the 2020-21 tax year, the first year of the county's reassessment of more than 400,000 commercial and residential properties.
“This marks an end to an era of an inherently unfair system which gave grievers a more favorable ratio and almost guaranteed a reduction," Curran said in a statement. "No longer will there be two different levels of assessment at ARC and DOA and no longer will one half of property owners be subsidizing the other half.”
Curran assured residents “that you will always have the right to grieve, but you shouldn’t have to do so to obtain a fair assessment of your home.”
County data show that during the eight-year freeze, 596,706 cases were settled en masse. Under the mass settlement program, ARC would "carry forward" a property owner's market value annually and apply the reduced ratio, ARC chairwoman Robin Laveman said.
Now, “people who didn't grieve their valuations are still at the same level of assessment as if they did grieve," Laveman said Thursday. "There's no disparity between the people that grieved and the people that didn’t grieve … It’s an even playing field. We no longer have to have this mass carry-forward program, because we’re using the same level of assessment.”
County property owners have until April 30 to file tax challenges. The county will make determinations for the 2020-21 tax year by April 1, 2020.