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Newsday letters to the editor for Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018

The Nassau County Department of Assessment in Mineola.

The Nassau County Department of Assessment in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Two ideas to solve Nassau tax problem

It’s absurd to expect that any property assessor can fairly value every home on Long Island using the current method [“Nassau County’s Gordian knot,” Editorial, Feb. 19]. The system looks at far too many variables.

The simplest approach would be to value every home using just three criteria: 1) the property’s town or village; 2) the land’s square footage; and 3) the home’s square footage.

Improvements beyond the addition of square footage should not matter. Once an initial valuation is made using only these criteria, any modifications would be easy to track through building permits.

In addition to simplifying the process, this method would end the practice of penalizing homeowners for improvements made internally or cosmetically. Only expansions of usable space would matter.

Hugh F. McCay, Garden City

I’ve been a taxpaying homeowner in Nassau County for almost 40 years, and the county assessment snafu has been a constant feature of life. I understand that Nassau is responsible for 100 percent of all grievance refunds, even though the county’s portion of the tax revenue is about 16 percent.

This structural imbalance has been dragging Nassau County closer to insolvency for years. My question is, why?

Why doesn’t the county legislature work with the county executive to abolish the assessment department and turn the responsibility back to the towns of Hempstead, Oyster Bay and North Hempstead, and the cities of Long Beach and Glen Cove?

I understand that the school districts, fire districts and other taxing entities would need a transition period to establish procedures and reserves, but the sooner we make this change, the sooner Nassau County could be back on a sustainable fiscal footing.

Doug Lange, Massapequa Park

Wind power can be a boon to NY State

New York’s elected officials have pledged to make New York a leader in renewable energy, with the goal of generating at least half of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030 [“State’s wind power plan,” News, Jan. 29]. But less than 3 percent of the state’s energy production currently comes from solar and wind, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

While New York produces one-fifth of its energy through large-scale hydropower facilities, Niagara Falls and other hydro plants cannot meet downstate New York’s needs.

There is still work to do. Even taking into account the South Fork wind project, which would be the largest in the nation, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s pledge to put into motion an additional 800 megawatts of wind by 2019, New York would still fall short of its 2030 goal.

The state Energy Research and Development Authority’s Offshore Wind Master Plan adds to the volumes of research predicting economic and environmental benefits that wind farms will bring to Long Islanders.

Kevin Dugan, Garden City

Editor’s note: The writer is a researcher for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Embassy move had big support in Senate

The Rev. Raymond A. Schroth maintains in his opinion piece that President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was ill-advised [“In Mideast, consider shared humanity,” Feb. 15].

The decision was a result of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. That law had bipartisan support and was passed in the Senate by 93-5, with all but one Democrat voting yes.

The law called for the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv by 1999. Citing national security since then, presidents repeatedly invoked a six-month waiver to delay the move.

Palestinians are still calling for the destruction of Israel. Until that edict is retracted, the Israelis have maintained that there can be little hope for any progress toward a two-state solution. To say the U.S. embassy move by Trump was ill-advised is somewhat disingenuous when one considers the overwhelming support by the elected officials of the American people.

Lawrence Beufve, Lindenhurst

Israel right to attack sites in Syria

I was taken aback by the Feb. 19 letter “How far will Israel venture into Syria?”

I recognize that a newspaper must publish letters expressing a wide variety of legitimate viewpoints. However, this letter began with the incredible statement that for years, “Israel has been a proxy supporter of factions aimed at destabilizing Syrian President Bashar Assad,” and it went downhill from there. Israel, since its establishment in 1948, has been subject to near-constant military threats, actual attacks and terrorist activity originating from Syria.

The writer portrays Israel as the aggressor, while Syria has never disguised its aspiration to wipe Israel off the map and destroy its Jewish citizens. Syria, and now Iran, have been the main financiers and arms suppliers of various terrorist groups that have perpetrated murder, destruction and sabotage against innocent Israeli civilians. They are also bitter enemies of the United States and its allies.

The letter referred to a recent incident when Israel struck bases and anti-aircraft batteries in Syria. This was provoked by the deliberate incursion of an Iranian military drone into Israeli territory, a violation of every norm of international law.

Martin SchiffmillerOceanside