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Laura Curran vetoes Nassau assessment 'bill of rights'

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Aug. 13

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Aug. 13 in Baldwin. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Wednesday vetoed a Republican-backed assessment "bill of rights" that would require a live operator be on hand to answer phones at the assessment department, and the assessor to live in Nassau.  

Majority Republicans had said the package of six bills would help reform the county’s complicated assessment system.

But Curran and other Democrats had derided the legislation as a political stunt.

GOP lawmakers passed the six bills Sept. 23 after a contentious, three-hour hearing during which legislators tangled over the particulars of each proposal.

 In her "disapproval memorandum," Curran called the GOP bills, “more of the same — cynical politics first, taxpayers last.”

She said the measures “do not meet best practices" in the assessment industry, and in some instances were of "questionable legality.” Curran wrote.

But legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) vowed immediately to schedule an override vote. Thirteen votes are needed to overturn a veto, and Republicans hold an 11-8 majority.

Nicolello said Curran, “put politics over policy by choosing to veto common sense legislation to make the reassessment process more fair and transparent." Nicolello said the bills were designed to "ease the burden" of taxpayers "who are simply trying to understand the reassessment process and have their questions answered.”

The Republican bills would:

  • Require the County Assessor to live in Nassau. Curran hired Assessor David Moog, of Sunnyside, Queens, in June 2018. The majority GOP caucus has called for Moog to resign over his handling of reassessment.
  • Require the assessment department to staff phone lines with live operators. Republican lawmakers say too many calls have gone to voicemail. But county officials say they have had trouble staffing the department and that during peak times, it's common for calls to go to voicemail.
  • Limit the assessor's ability to change the level of assessment.
  • Require Nassau to send out tax impact statements outlining changes stemming from reassessment by Oct. 15. County officials say they can't meet the deadline, the mailing would cost too much — $240,000 — and the impact information already is online.
  • Limit the ability of assessment department inspectors to view portions of a home not subject to a tax challenge.
  • Require the county assessor to hold hearings throughout the county.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said in an interview the Democratic caucus planned to vote to uphold Curran’s veto.

“We feel that they’re a political ploy," Abrahams said of the Republican bills. "Right now, we’re a little over 30 days until the election. This is just the Republicans in the Legislature trying to pull the wool over taxpayers' eyes. We feel the taxpayers are too smart for that and will see through this as political games."

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