Spin Cycle

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New York’s highest court will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that pits Nassau County against dozens of school districts and municipalities over who is responsible for property-tax refunds.

The case centers on Nassau’s unusual tax-assessment system. Unlike other jurisdictions, the county is responsible for assessments instead of towns and other municipal entities. And, under a 1948 law known as the “county guaranty,” the county is responsible for property-tax refunds resulting from assessment errors.

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In 2010, County Executive Edward Mangano drove a change through the county legislature that eliminated the guaranty for tax bills.

Some 40 school districts, led by the Baldwin Union Free School District, have filed suit against the county, joined by the Town of North Hempstead and some individual taxpayers.

Nearly 11 months ago, a mid-level state court rejected Nassau’s attempt to shift the cost of property-tax refunds to school districts and towns in a decision that could cost the county $80 million per year.

The county then asked the state’s top court to take up the issue.