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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

State treading carefully on Nassau assessment freeze

The state agency that oversees tax assessments usually tries to stay out of local disputes, but it went out of its way in 2007 to criticize a Republican proposal in 2007 to freeze property taxes in Nassau County.

Republicans were out of power then, but they now hold the county executive post and have a majority in the county legislature and they are again proposing a freeze on assessments.

This time, the state agency, the Office of Real Property Services, is taking a more cautious approach.

In 2007, ORPS Executive Director Lee Kyriacou called the freeze idea, “highly imprudent if not illegal.”

Now, the agency says it wants to wait for details before saying anything of substance. But doesn’t the 2007 statement by Kyriacou, made in a letter to the county, still hold true?

Ah. not necessarily. ORPS was asked that question Wednesday and provided the following reply: “That (2007) response was in regard to a specific legislative proposal that was on the table at the time. As communicated to us by (then-Nassau County Tax Assessor) Harvey Levinson, the county legislation would have prohibited assessment increases on residential property for five years. This time around, we don't know what the new County Exec is proposing.”

With that in mind, we provide another quote from Kyriacou’s 2007 letter. “Further, as a matter of public policy, any legislation that imposes blanket restrictions on assessments is almost always unsound. Such restrictions should only be used to pursue clearly defined and limited policy goats, and should be implemented only after careful analysis of the impact of the restriction.”

County Executive Edward Mangano was expected to announce later Thursday that he was appointing a team headed by attorney and former state official Patrick Foye of Port Washington to study the assessment system and recommend fixes, including how long any freeze would last.

[UPDATE: Mangano said he favored a four-year freeze, certainly not more than five years,but perhaps shorter than four years if the study team recommended less.]




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