Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed a bill to phase-in the first reassessment in nearly a decade Monday after it passed the County Legislature, allowing her reassessment to move forward.
Also Monday, Curran extended the deadline to file tax challenges for the 2021-22 tax year, from April 2 to April 30. The Legislature enacted a similar measure.
Under the phase-in, changes in the tax burden would be spread over a five-year period.
That would slow sudden assessment spikes, but also delay reductions for those who were over-assessed.
Legislators approved the bill 17-0.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the public was barred from the legislative meeting, which was livestreamed.
Lawmakers and staff had their temperatures taken before attending the meeting, and the public emailed comments, which were read into the record.
Voting remotely were legislators Vincent Muscarella (R-West Hempstead); James Kennedy (R-Massapequa); Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury); Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great neck); Carrié Solages (D-Elmont); and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).
Legis. John Ferretti Jr. (R-Levittown) and Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-Bellmore) abstained.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo authorized such meeting changes in a March 7 executive order.
Faced with the prospects of sudden increases in tax bills due to reassessment, Curran proposed a "phase-in" in September 2018.
The Nassau phase-in was part of the state Budget approved last March, but the county also was required to pass a local law. Republicans declined to schedule a vote on the bill last year, saying they needed assurance the reassessment was conducted accurately.
Democrats accused Republicans of stalling for political purposes.
Nassau Assessor David Moog has called it imperative to pass the phase-in immediately to give his staff time to calculate new values used to produce property tax bills.
Meanwhile, the assessment office is operating with reduced staffing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said it was time to approve the phase-in legislation.
"I believe it is incumbent on us to act on this today," he said. "Otherwise, to delay further would be to effectively kill it, in my opinion."
Nicolello called the reassessment "flawed," and expressed concern that the phase-in would slow assessment reductions for those who have been over-assessed.
However, "there are tens of thousands who would see … massive, sizable, whatever word you want to use, increases in their taxes," he said. "We simply cannot allow that to happen."
"Destabilizing Nassau's communities, especially after this coronavirus, is something that would affect every resident in this county," he said. "We cannot allow these economic disruptions."
Curran said in a statement: "While we are in uncertain times, I am relieved to finally provide certainty for Nassau’s taxpayers, ensuring homeowners will be protected from immediate and full increases in taxes … After a year of stalling by the Republican Majority, I thank them for finally putting political games aside in this time of crisis and allowing the full Legislature to pass my critical plan for property tax relief."
Tax bills for more than 205,000 Nassau County homeowners — about 53% of the total — will rise in October and January under reassessment, according to county projections.
But more than 177,000 property owners — 46% — are expected to see tax reductions for the 2020-21 tax year.
Also Monday, Curran extended the grace period for filing tax challenges for the 2021-22 tax year to April 30, citing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's work-from-home directive that took effect at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Curran said last week that she was not planning another extension.
Curran said grievances can be filed online, or property owners will have to use the drop-box outside the Assessment Review Commission Office at 240 Old Country Road.
Also Monday, lawmakers approved an emergency resolution to allow the county to legally accept donations of supplies for first responders — such as masks and gowns — without state approval.