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Sen. Venditto files bill for vet exemption for ex-assessor

Michael Venditto, as GOP candidate for New York

Michael Venditto, as GOP candidate for New York State Senate 8th District, at Nassau Republican Party headquarters on June 20, 2014. Credit: James Escher / James Escher

State Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) has filed legislation to give former Freeport Assessor Paul Nehrich a veterans’ exemption — although the Nassau County assessor’s office says Nehrich does not qualify for the break, which would reduce his property taxes by an estimated $500.

The bill says Nehrich, 78, who served in the National Guard in the 1960s, is one day short of the six months of military service needed to qualify and got the break for decades before moving to Freeport. But the assessor’s office says it was in error since only veterans who were on active duty are eligible.

The issue surfaced when Nehrich reapplied for the exemption after moving from Bayville and then-Mayor Andrew Hardwick named him assessor. Nehrich identified himself as Freeport’s Independence Party leader on a party caucus notice in 2013 when party patron Gary Melius financed Hardwick’s failed county-executive campaign.

Nehrich said Melius played no part. “I haven’t talked to Gary Melius in years,” he said. “I served in the military. I don’t know what the hubbub is all about.” Melius said he had “no clue” about the issue.

Venditto spokesman John Banville said the senator “introduced legislation solely at the request of an elderly constituent” and is asking the state’s Taxation and Finance Department for an opinion on the matter.

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