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Nassau County assessor: Some property tax bills could rise without state help

Assessor David Moog said some property tax bills could rise under a reassessment plan if state lawmakers don't pass legislation spreading out assessment increases.

Nassau County Assessor David Moog at his Mineola

Nassau County Assessor David Moog at his Mineola office on June 21. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County assessor said Monday that some county residents could see tax bills rise markedly under County Executive Laura Curran’s reassessment plan if state lawmakers fail to approve legislation spreading assessment increases over a five-year period.

Majority Republicans in the county legislature questioned why the administration was proceeding with the reassessment without the state legislation in hand.

County Assessor David Moog, in an appearance before the county legislature, said some property tax bills could rise by up to 20 percent without the state intervention. Moog said half of property owners are likely to see increases, and half will see decreases.

Moog made his comments after lawmakers unanimously approved a bill requiring his office to send notices by Nov. 15 to Nassau property owners identifying the potential impact of reassessment.

The back and forth Monday between Republicans and the administration was the latest showdown in the long-running effort to fix Nassau’s property assessment system.

In March, Curran, a Democrat, announced plans to conduct a countywide reassessment for the first time since 2011, when the Republican administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano froze the tax rolls.

Last month, Curran signed an executive order to drop the level of assessment from 0.25 percent to 0.1 percent, as part of an effort to reduce inequities in the tax bills of those who grieved their assessments and those who did not. The level of assessment is the fraction of the home’s value that’s used to calculate tax bills.

Some legislators said they feared Curran’s plan would bring homeowners who have successfully challenged their taxes up to full market value too rapidly, causing some tax bills to spike.

Curran has said state legislation to spread assessment increases over a five-year period would soften the blow for such property owners.

But Nassau Legis. John Ferretti Jr. (R-Levittown) asked Monday, “What if it’s not passed? What’s the contingency plan?”

Moog said, “We’ll be working diligently to get the legislation passed. That’s the premise that we’re going under.”

But even Senate Democrats, who are trying to regain control of the chamber in the November elections, reacted coolly to Curran’s reassessment plan and her call for new state legislation to phase in the impact.

A spokesman for majority Senate Republicans did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Asked about Curran’s push for the state legislation, Michael Murphy, a spokesman for senate Democrats, said, “The assessment system needs to be reformed in a way that will benefit all taxpayers so Long Islanders get the tax relief they deserve.”

Murphy said, “Tax relief for Long Islanders is a top priority for senate Democrats and we will do whatever is necessary to ease the plague of high property taxes. We are concerned this action could result in a tax rate increase for hardworking Nassau County families at a time when the federal tax plan will already drastically increase their tax burden due to the loss of state and local deductions.”

“Under the Mangano administration, there was gross mismanagement of the assessment rolls, which left the Curran administration with an outdated and grossly inaccurate assessment roll,” Murphy said.

The Curran administration has said the state bill they want would resemble state legislation used in the Town of Greenburgh, a Westchester municipality with about 90,000 residents, to phase in assessment increases over a three-year period.

Also Monday, the legislature approved a bill to widen public access to county parkland.

A Newsday series in July found that scores of acres of open-space parcels were not accessible to the public after the county acquired them using $100 million in proceeds from the county’s environmental bond acts of 2004 and 2006. Many of the parcels were purchased from individuals with ties to county politics or the selection process, Newsday found.

The series showed that the parcels were largely closed to the public and at various sites, signage and promotion were inconsistent, and parking was difficult to find.

The bill to broaden access to such properties was altered recently after Democrats raised cost and safety concerns.

The county has 60 days to list properties, “where openness and accessibility to the public is inappropriate due to the nature and character of the property.” The bill also gives the county up to one year to add parking to sites.

Legis. Denise Ford, a Democrat from Long Beach who caucuses with Republicans, said she understood the concerns of Democrats, but said, “For 14 years, we have been waiting for access to these parcels of land.”

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