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Nassau legislative committees OK bill requiring release of assessment data

Lawmakers at a meeting of the Nassau Legislature's

Lawmakers at a meeting of the Nassau Legislature's rules committee on Monday in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Legislation to require Nassau County's Department of Assessment to release all data and formulas used to determine the property values when calculating county taxes cleared two legislative committees Monday.

The bill would require the Department of Assessment to disclose, within five days of a records request, all electronic data files, algorithms, codes, formulas, scripts, and programs used to calculate assessed values. 

Majority Republicans on the county legislature also announced new bills they say would create greater accountability during the countywide reassessment plan of County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat.

The current re-evaluation of more than 450,000 properties has become a political flashpoint with Republicans fighting against the process that has become the cornerstone of Curran's first term in office, which began in January 2018.

"I look forward to seeing these bills, aimed at restoring faith in what has thus far been an error-riddled assessment process pass the full legislature at our next meeting with bipartisan support. Nassau taxpayers deserve nothing less," Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said in a prepared statement. 

The "Assessment Bill of Rights" package would: mandate the county executive to send out notices to homeowners who grieved their taxes with the result of their grievance; require the Curran administration to send out new tax impact notices so residents know what they will pay under a new assessed value and the proposed five-year phase-in; restrict unnecessarily intrusive property inspections by the Department of Assessment; limit the authority of the county executive to change the level of assessment in order to avoid the New York State law limiting increases in assessed value; and require the county assessor to hold multiple hearings with residents and live in Nassau County.

Democrats on both committees — Finance and Rules — voted to advance the bill requiring the formula disclosure after a failed attempt to table it, citing the lack of a legal opinion from the county attorney. The bill is pending approval of the full, 19-member legislature on Aug. 5. 

“This is the height of hypocrisy. The GOP majority fiddled while [former County Executive Edward] Mangano burned a corrupt assessment system to the ground. This is the majority that froze the assessment roll 10 years ago and began unfairly shifting property taxes to one half of the county’s taxpayers," said Curran spokeswoman Christine Geed said in a statement. 

She said the Curran administration hosted 57 community meetings on assessment, three in each legislative district, and now it is conducting more than 30 property tax exemption workshops.

Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams (D-Freeport) echoed her comments saying the Republicans' move was "rushing to do all these things just months before an election smacks of opportunism and hypocrisy. However, the minority caucus will closely review the items and continue to support meaningful reforms that truly protect taxpayers and promote transparent, sound assessment policies.”

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