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Long IslandPolitics

Overcharged Nassau residents to receive sewer tax refunds

Homeowners in Rockville Centre, Hempstead, Freeport, Garden City and Mineola received a nearly 75 percent sewer disposal tax hike.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran plans to introduce

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran plans to introduce legislation allowing Nassau to issue refunds to residents who have already paid their taxes. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau will issue refunds in coming months to residents of five villages who were erroneously overcharged by the county, often by hundreds of dollars, on their 2018 property tax bills.

A mistake in the 2017 budget by the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano mistakenly charged homeowners in Rockville Centre, Hempstead, Freeport, Garden City and Mineola for a hike of nearly 75 percent in their sewer disposal taxes.

Nassau residents were supposed to get a 0.8 percent flat sewer tax increase that would have cost the average homeowner $10 to $15 a year.

But an error in Mangano’s budget office last October directed the entire cost of the tax increase — calculated at just under $9.3 million — to only residents of the five villages.

County Executive Laura Curran submitted proposed legislation Monday allowing Nassau to issue refunds to residents who have already paid their taxes, either through their mortgage companies or because they wanted to utilize deductions expiring as part of the federal tax overhaul signed into law last year by President Donald Trump.

The Republican-controlled Rules Committee approved the legislation Monday evening. It still must clear the full 19-member Legislature.

The refunds, Curran said, would come out of the county’s sewer fund, which has ample reserves, while the nearly 1 percent tax increase would be applied next year. Administration officials did not clarify how much is in the sewer reserve fund.

“This is a bipartisan problem and we’re going to solve it in a bipartisan way,” Curran said Monday at a news conference in Mineola with county legislators, Town of Hempstead officials and village leaders.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said the legislation should clear the Republican majority. “It’s an issue we can correct and will correct,” he said.

Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said: “Nassau County residents can’t afford one more nickel. And obviously as they were being overcharged, so it is incumbent for all of us to work in a bipartisan manner to fix it.”

The county will issue a corrected bill for second-half tax payments, said Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin. An estimated 34,000 residents in Hempstead Town were affected by the error.

“At a minimum for the second half, you will be paying the right portion,” Clavin said./Curran on Monday ordered the Office of Management and Budget to identify ways to modernize Nassau’s “outdated” budgeting systems “that will prevent this failure from happening again.”

Curran said she will ask County Comptroller Jack Schnirman to review the final changes proposed by OMB.

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