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Homeowner keeps pressing for Nassau assessment data

Nassau County for the first time is using

Nassau County for the first time is using a computer modeling system that aims to precisely measure the effect of a home's location on its market value Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Lynbrook homeowner Dennis Duffy doesn’t give up easily.

He has submitted another Freedom of Information request to Nassau County for more information about the countywide reassessment after officials agreed to his earlier demands for the computer formula used to calculate new residential values.

Duffy was rebuffed repeatedly this spring in his quest to get the algorithm the county used to develop his home’s new assessment.

The county said the algorithm was exempt from public disclosure because it was a trade secret embedded in the computer software of a vendor hired for the reassessment.

So Duffy took the county to state Supreme Court. In June, Nassau dropped its defense against Duffy’s lawsuit and turned over more than 200 pages of computer code its attorneys argued was the algorithm "by which all of the preliminary assessments were established."

Duffy on Friday conceded that the county “technically met the requirements of the law.” But he said, “I really didn’t get what I wanted.”

He submitted another Freedom of Information request July 24, asking for documents and operating instructions related to the county’s purchase and use of the software program known as Prognose, a product/service of Thimgan Associates, the vendor that provided the algorithm to the county.

Duffy said he has yet to get a response, even though Freedom of Information requests are required to be acknowledged within five days. He also is supposed to get an estimated time for when the government will respond, either by providing the documents or citing the exemption that allows it to refuse disclosure.

“I hope to get more of the truth,” Duffy said. “Because, again, people have a right to know this.”

Christine Geed, spokeswoman for County Executive Laura Curran, said in an email Friday night: “Mr. Duffy was satisfied in court with our response. We are surprised to learn of a new FOIL inquiry and will make every effort to meet his request.”

Duffy said he had been working with homeowners throughout the county, including Great Neck resident Steven Hirsch, in an attempt to decipher the computer coding.

Some computer experts say the code given to Duffy is missing essential computer files.

The Great Neck Record reported recently that Hirsch had developed an Excel spreadsheet that allows anyone with a computer to break down their home's formula by following the steps at the www.nassaucountysecrets.home.blog. 

“I think the whole thing is nuts,” Duffy said of the reassessment and computer coding. “They should have done something the people could understand. … If they had just said, we’re going to look at all the sales in your school district [to determine a home’s value], everybody could have understood this.”

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