Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at a news conference at Bethpage...

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at a news conference at Bethpage High School Wednesday, June 25, 2014. At a bill signing ceremony at the school, Cuomo said speed cameras "will save lives . . . It's the right use of technology, and the right time." Credit: Barry Sloan

I concur that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should "take a very hard look" at recent legislation to fix Nassau County's commercial assessments ["Albany makes its deals," Editorial, June 22].

Yes, new laws are sorely needed; however, only a blue ribbon committee of professionals with knowledge of assessment law has a chance to reform the system. Not widely understood are the consequences of a declining tax base.

Nassau continues to decimate its tax base. What is needed is some transparency to expose Nassau affirmatively permitting its tax base to decline.

A new culprit is the unprecedented granting of tax breaks to developers by the county's Industrial Development Agency. The IDA tax breaks, combined with freezing residential assessments for four years and granting almost every assessment challenge, resulted in higher school and county tax rates.

To make up for the loss of taxable assessed values, the assessor's office this fall will be required to increase school tax rates to give each district its tax levy amount to the penny. Don't blame the schools; the fault lies with the loss of the tax base.

An audit by the state comptroller to quantify the loss of Nassau's tax base over the last three years would be prudent. If the governor signs this bill into law, it is very likely that school tax rates will go up.

Harvey B. Levinson, Boca Raton, Florida

Editor's note: The writer, a Democrat, was Nassau County assessor from 2004 to 2008.


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