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OpinionLetters

Newsday letters to the editor for Sunday, January 13th, 2019.

Newsday readers respond to topics covered.

On Jan. 2, Nassau County Assessor David Moog

On Jan. 2, Nassau County Assessor David Moog shows the notice of completion of the tentative assessment roll for the 2020-21 tax year. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A recent letter from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said all property assessments are now accurate, but I find that hard to believe [“Errors in assessment roll: Nassau corrects 18,400 values for homeowners,” News, Jan. 4].

My wife and I are the original owners of our home of 60 years. We haven’t made many changes. It’s still three bedrooms, one and a half baths; no expansions, new siding, in-ground pool, decks or skylights, etc.

When I received my new assessment, I made an appointment to speak to a county assessor representative. I armed myself with information of recent sales of similar neighboring homes showing three and four bedrooms, three baths, fireplaces and finished basements, yet their sale prices were lower than my new assessment. The representative printed 13 pages of houses in Jericho — split-levels, Colonials, ranches — all with high prices, but no other information other than addresses.

You can’t put a house with no sale history in a box with others saying your property has been evaluated using mass appraisal techniques. The representative told me, “I guess you’ll have to file a grievance.”

I thought the whole idea was not to file a grievance. Here we go again.

Al Gallo, Jericho

Over the past 10 years, I have diligently followed the rules and grieved my property taxes to take advantage of whatever legal opportunities I had to have my home properly assessed.

My reward? I am made to feel guilty for not paying my fair share, and with the stroke of someone’s pen, all of the tax reductions I have successfully received are wiped out as my property taxes are projected to go from $7,682 to $10,167 a year.

Is my only option to continue to grieve them and repeat the process? At this rate of iteration, it will take 100 years to fix this mess. Can’t someone figure out a way to do this right?

Rick Vitelli, Farmingdale

Apparently inflated home assessments and whopping tax increases promise to wreak havoc with the budgets of Nassau County residents — especially senior residents on fixed incomes. It is high time for the State Legislature to take a closer look at relieving retirees and others of the unjust, unfair, irrational and disgraceful policy of charging everyone with the same outrageously high school taxes, regardless of their ability to pay.

How about giving residents without children, or residents whose children have long left the public schools, a break on the school tax, or no tax at all?

The “senior deduction” under the School Tax Relief (STAR) program is a joke. The maximum amount one might earn is hardly enough to be fair.

Jay Roberts, Jericho

All Nassau County residents, not just property owners, should pay their fair share for the resources they use daily.

County Executive Laura Curran should pursue a residence tax — albeit, a flat or income tax — to be imposed on nonowners. They should pay county and school taxes just as owners of homes and commercial property do. Why should they get a free ride when they use the same resources? This is the only way to secure the future of Nassau County.

Al Zanone, Elmont

My wife and I agree on the need for fairness in assessing property. We were happy to be given the opportunity to meet with a representative of the assessor’s office to discuss our reassessment on Dec. 10. However, it was an awful experience. Whenever we asked a question or made a suggestion when the comparables seemed incorrectly applied, we were treated rudely. The representative would not even give us her full name. We gained absolutely no information. All we got was verbal abuse.

I wrote up the incident on the assessor’s website and also left a phone message. I had not heard back as of Wednesday.

If the county executive wants support for her initiative, this is not how taxpayers should be treated.

William Coddington, Port Washington

I applaud Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s attempt to fix the property tax assessment system. We need to acknowledge that it is broken and that many before her have made admirable, but failed attempts, to fix it. I applaud their efforts as well.

I hope our county executive will achieve a greater sense of fairness and bring some improved equity to our current broken system. Any improvement will be much appreciated.

More than two-thirds of our property taxes go to fund our Long Island’s 124 school district. Perhaps we should focus on district consolidation if we are truly concerned about our high property taxes.

J.B. Schwartzberg, Massapequa

For all the consternation associated with the Nassau County reassessment, the driving principal is the unfairness to those who didn’t appeal their taxes. Those who did appeal are now frantic to the point of being priced out of their homes by taxes.

Then I read every day in Newsday about the ever-increasing number of tax breaks awarded to businesses by various industrial development agencies. It seems to me the same inequity resulting from the tax challenge system is encouraged by the way the IDAs shift the burden to entities not receiving their tax breaks.

The IDAs started as a system to encourage relocation to our region, but have morphed into giving tax relief simply to not move away. As more businesses pile on, the inequity will only grow. IDAs exist because our taxes are just too damn high. There are many causes, but I believe the underlying problem is pensions and lifetime medical benefits for public service workers. Many private sector employers abandoned pensions more than a decade ago in favor of self-directed 401(k) programs. If Obamacare is good enough for the rest of us, why not public service employees?

Frank McQuade, Miller Place

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