Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Today we had lunch with Nassau County’s new executive Laura Curran and we’re sharing some of what she told us with you.
On Curran’s plate
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, accompanied by several of her top deputies, met with the editorial board Tuesday afternoon for a wide-ranging, two-hour discussion that focused on the county’s efforts to overhaul its assessment system.
That starts with the creation of a new task force, led by Chief Deputy County Executive Helena Williams. It includes key members of Curran’s team and representatives from both parties in the county legislature. That task force is working with both the county Department of Assessment and the Assessment Review Commission.
The goal: to establish a fair, accurate tax roll that the county can actually defend — by 2019.
That’s a tough task and a quick turnaround for a broken system that’s had frozen property assessments since 2010.
It starts with getting the word out. Curran, who will speak to the Nassau County Village Officials Association at Westbury Manor Tuesday night, said she’s prepared to tell the mayors and other community leaders there of the county’s plans to get assessments back on track.
Even with the goal in sight, Curran’s effort will take time. For now, that means Nassau County residents will still be effectively forced to grieve their taxes this year.
They have until April 2.
Randi F. Marshall
The little village, town cop contracts that could
News stories about village or town police officers in parts of Long Island getting huge contracts are startling and the numbers are quite relevant.
In October, Northport’s village board approved a contract that gives every one of its 17 cops annual bonuses of $25,000 for 2017, 2018 and 2019, and which increases base pay by 2.75 percent a year through 2027. That means base sergeant pay will be $226,267 in 2027, and base lieutenant pay will be $234,329. That’s before overtime, and does not include other benefits and the ability to accrue sick and vacation pay, which officers can cash out the day they retire.
If the taxpayers of some other villages want to pay police a ton, it’s nobody’s business but their own, right?
Well, not really. Every time a village, town or even a county on Long Island gives police a great deal, that deal becomes the rising tide helping to lift all boats. In the long run, any big contract for a public-sector union can have at least some effect on every contract for similar union shops, according to labor arbitration legend and cop hero Martin Scheinman, who has mediated hundreds of such deals.
“They are comparable jobs,” Scheinman said of policing villages, towns and counties, “and there is an obviously compelling argument to look at such labor deals when the counties are negotiating. The key is, what are the best, most likely most similar comparisons, but that is a matter of opinion and negotiation, and such deals will have an influence,” so consider Northport a trendsetter.
Nassau County’s police contracts expired on Dec. 31. Suffolk County’s end at the end of the year.
Homes back from the dead
The state’s Community Restoration Fund, started last year to prevent homes from becoming zombie properties, has purchased 570 distressed mortgages to help families avoid foreclosure and keep them in their homes.
Of those properties, more than half — 295 — are on Long Island, the region of New York hit hardest by foreclosures after the national financial collapse.
The county breakdown — 194 in Suffolk, 101 in Nassau — is not surprising. But the list of buyouts in specific communities illustrates the breadth of the problem.
Mortgages were bought out in 34 communities in Nassau and 60 in Suffolk. Tops in Nassau were Hempstead (17), Freeport (11) and Levittown (7), while Suffolk’s list was headed by Bay Shore (12), Brentwood and Central Islip (10 each) and Mastic Beach and Lindenhurst (9 each).
But there also are many well-to-do communities that had a least one mortgage purchased by the state, including Roslyn, Syosset, Smithtown, Dix Hills and Nissequogue.