Nassau County Assessor David Moog said his office is “rigorously pursuing hiring people” to fill vacancies in the assessment department, as Republican lawmakers grilled him during a tense legislative hearing Monday night.
The administration of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, has been embroiled in a fight with majority Republican legislators over the countywide reassessment of more than 400,000 properties. The 11 Republican lawmakers have called on Moog to resign and proposed changing the job to an elected position. They have called the reassessment process “error-riddled."
Earlier this month, the County Legislature’s budget review office found that Nassau had 80 funded vacancies in the assessment department. According to financial reports, 123 of 203 positions in the assessor's office had been filled. Moog said Monday night the number is now 127.
“Are you going to be able to release a roll that’s going to be accurate with the personnel that you presently have?” asked Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-Bellmore). “Why does there seem to be no sense of urgency behind that?"
“It’s very hard to attract people at current salaries presently in the civil service system,” Moog answered. He said there are about 60 vacancies and his office interviews 15 people every two weeks.
The department has added 26 employees since Moog became the county assessor in June, and the department has searched for different candidates at various job fairs.
The hearing also touched on a plan in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's upcoming proposed budget to phase in assessment changes over a five-year period.
At the beginning of the hearing, the mood grew tense after Moog gave his prepared remarks. Nassau Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) expressed disappointment with Moog's opening statement.
“Mr. Moog, that’s your presentation?” Nicolello asked.
Another administration official then detailed Cuomo's phase-in proposal.
At one point, Legis. C. William Gaylor III (R-Lynbrook) asked sarcastically: “Mr. Moog are you happy with your tax increase?”
To which Moog responded: “I don’t live in Nassau County."
“I wish you did," Gaylor said. "You would feel the pain that thousands, and tens of thousands, and I’d say probably close to hundreds of thousands of taxpayers are feeling with this reassessment. It’s been an absolute horrible show so far.”
Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport) praised Moog for his efforts.