A major problem with the Nassau County assessment system is that it encourages homeowners to take advantage of the dozens of fliers from firms that specialize in appeals, especially when 87 percent of appeals are successful ["Cleaning up the assessment mess," Opinion, Oct. 16].
Who gets hurt? Everyone except these firms! They submit almost 90 percent of the appeals that are filed, and then take half of the first year's tax savings in payment! In effect, every other homeowner pays the fee to these firms, because each time a property owner gets a reduced tax bill, other taxpayers must make up the difference.
That's the primary reason why average tax rates in Nassau County school districts are more than double the taxpayer-approved increase. If the Nassau County assessor would adjust everyone's assessment annually to reflect true property value, individuals would not have to pay exorbitant fees, and the burden of assessment appeals would not be shifted from the county to the school districts.
The alternative is for every homeowner to file an annual appeal for a proper assessment, dramatically increasing county costs, further benefiting firms that specialize in this ridiculous charade and hurting everyone else.
Phil Heckler, Hicksville
Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Hicksville school board.
It's my understanding that the owners of roughly 150,000 residences grieved their assessment by utilizing the services of tax grievance companies and law firms, and that a far greater number, about 240,000 homeowners, elected not to grieve their assessment. Presumably those who chose not to grieve believed that the county had fairly assessed their homes, meaning that the assessed values were close to the fair market value.
In essence, the county for the foreseeable future has two tax rates: one for those who filed grievances, and one for those who didn't. The goal of assessment is to ensure that like-valued houses pay equivalent taxes.
This situation could have been avoided. Once the county became aware that the .0025 tax equalization rate that it was utilizing was no longer an accurate number, the Department of Assessment could have corrected the equalization rate on all houses to .0019, rather than have the Assessment Review Commission do so only for those that filed grievances. Had that occurred, homeowners who did not grieve because they thought their homes were fairly assessed would not have been penalized.
Jeffrey B. Gold, Bellmore
Editor's note: The writer is a former member of the Nassau County Board of Assessors and a former commissioner of the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission.