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LI villages to property owners: Don’t try to pay 2018 taxes early

Many villages operate on a fiscal year that ends May 31, have not set a budget or tax levy, and can’t do so by the end of the year, officials say.

Malverne Village Hall on Feb. 4, 2009.

Malverne Village Hall on Feb. 4, 2009. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Village officials on Long Island said they have been swamped this week with phone calls from residents asking if they can prepay their 2018-2019 village taxes.

The answer is no.

Residents can prepay their 2018 second-half school and general taxes to towns by the end of the year — even in Nassau County, where it was previously prohibited — after an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week.

Town tax receivers have been inundated this week as property owners rush to prepay their bills. Taxpayers in Long Beach and Glen Cove can also prepay their 2018 city taxes.

Many villages have not yet prepared their 2018-2019 annual budgets because most operate on a fiscal year that ends May 31. They have not determined a tax levy or held the required public hearings and would not be able to do so before Sunday, the last day of 2017, officials said.

“How can you pay a tax if you don’t know what it is?” said Teresa Emmel, the clerk-treasurer in Malverne, where the average property owner pays a village tax of about $4,300. “I feel for people, there’s too many unknowns right now.”

Many villages, including Garden City, Rockville Centre and Floral Park, have sent emails or posted messages on their websites or social media telling property owners that they can’t prepay village taxes.

In Southampton Village, Tax Receiver Danielle Burns is out of the office until Jan. 2, but village administrator Stephen Funsch has recorded a message on Burns’ machine: “If you are calling to question whether you can pay the 2018-2019 assessment early, at the end of 2017, the village can unfortunately not accept that as a warrant is not due until May 2018.”

Funsch said in an interview that taxpayers were “coming in droves” this week.

In the village’s estate section, “they’re all multimillion-dollar properties looking to take advantage of deductions,” he said, noting that village taxes can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $150,000.

Port Jefferson village administrator Bob Juliano said the village hadn’t been fielding too many more calls than usual. But in a municipality where the village taxes are on average between $1,200 and $1,400, Juliano said, “we wish we could accommodate our residents.”

In Freeport, where the fiscal year ends Feb. 28 and residents pay an average of about $3,000 annually in village taxes, Mayor Robert Kennedy said that even if the village could scramble to adopt a budget by Dec. 31, it didn’t have the software or resources to accept partial payments or handle over- or underpayments.

“It’s impossible for us to really calculate,” he said. “There’s so many variables.”

With Rachelle Blidner and David Olson

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