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Curran again seeks to phase in reassessment tax burden

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has refiled legislation to phase in the tax burden due to reassessment over a five-year period to blunt the impact of the county's first overhaul of property values in nearly a decade that is set to first affect tax bills in October and next January.

A plan to phase in the tax burden over five years passed the State Legislature last March 31, but the county has to pass its own legislation opting into the program. Curran, a Democrat, filed a bill with the County Legislature last April 30 and refers to the phase-in as the "Taxpayer Protection Plan."

Republican county legislators never called the bill for a hearing, and the legislation expired at the end of 2019.

The proposal functions as an exemption; effectively, valuation increases are applied gradually over a five-year period.

Republicans say they will not review the bill until they are assured the reassessment was conducted accurately and fairly.

Nassau County Assessor David Moog said Curran's bill must be passed by the County Legislature's meeting in July to ensure the phase-in exemption can be applied to October tax bills.

Democrats say property owners and prospective buyers should know well in advance of October whether the phase-in will take effect so they have an idea of what future tax bills will look like.

Administration officials also stressed that waiting until July will rush the process and cause operational problems. 

“We will not be deterred from continuing the substantial progress we’ve made to restore fairness and integrity to the corrupted property assessment system — as we are now in our second year of producing accurate and up-to-date assessments,” Curran said in a statement.

“We owe our homeowners protection as we continue to repair the damage and inequity caused by the broken system," Curran said. "I am urging the majority in the county legislature to finally take action — as their inaction helped create this mess — and call my Taxpayer Protection Plan to the floor immediately … Let’s lock this in and give residents reassurance and peace of mind.”

Moog said in an interview Thursday that the State Legislature "rushed through it, and the Nassau County Legislature is keeping people hanging."

Moog continued: "Nassau taxpayers should be informed as soon as possible, and people buying homes need to know how much taxes they’ll be paying. There’s no need for this to be delayed as it has."

The county begins work on tax warrants in July. Those legal documents are filed with the legislature and generally passed in September, Moog said. 

Town tax receivers need to have the warrants to send out the school tax bills, which are mailed to residents in October.

“This is not easy stuff, this is not push a button and it’s done. It’s 379,000 bills that need to be calculated through a new exemption, and we have to make sure it’s tested and properly implemented. It’s not an easy process,” Moog said. 

Presiding Officer Richard J. Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said in a statement Thursday, "The majority has every intention of considering and voting upon the proposed phase-in, but not before we hold hearings at which the administration will be called to explain precisely how the phase-in will affect our taxpayers, as well as other ongoing issues involving the administration’s reassessment plan and the recent update. We are doing our due diligence to prevent the kinds of mistakes and errors that plagued the reassessment plan rollout.”

Three studies, including one conducted by Newsday, have found the residential assessments to be about as accurate as possible, with an industry-standard error rate of less than 9%.

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