PRESIDING OFFICER RICHARD J. NICOLELLO
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The Curran Administration is proceeding with a plan to reassess every property in Nassau County. While I agree that the current system needs to be fixed, I strongly disagree with some of the actions that the administration has taken.
New York State law provides that assessed values may not increase more than 6% in a year. This NYS assessment cap is designed to prevent homeowners from facing dramatic tax increases in a single year. It is especially important to have this cap in place in Nassau since the county’s assessment expert estimates that more than 50,000 households will see tax increases of 25% or more and another 40,000 will see increases of 15% to 25%.
Earlier this year, as the Administration prepared to move ahead with reassessment, the County Executive signed an Executive Order confirming that the reassessment would be subject to the NYS cap. Then, upon the advice of her Assessor David Moog, the County Executive rescinded the Executive Order and has eliminated the protection of the assessment cap for 95% of Nassau households. The Administration is doing this by changing the formula by which homeowners’ tentative assessed value is determined.
I believe that removal of the NYS cap is the wrong approach especially in light of the limitation on the SALT (state and local tax) deduction and rising interest rates. Hitting tens of thousands with large tax increases will be a burden for many, the last straw for some and could have an effect on home values throughout Nassau.
The County Executive has indicated that she will seek state legislation to phase-in the tax increases. I would certainly support sensible and fair legislation to soften the blow from assessment increases. However, this legislation has not even been drafted and there is no guarantee that the State Legislature will approve it. The Assessor has admitted there is no “backup” plan if they cannot get state legislation for the phase-in.
I also disagree with how the Administration has chosen to inform the public about what it is doing. As reported by Newsday, the administration deliberately sent out new assessed value notices with minimal information. The notices are confusing and tell taxpayers nothing about the estimated tax impact of the new assessed values. Even worse, many taxpayers are seeing fair market value increases of 50%, 100% or more, and are deeply distressed because they think that their taxes will increase by a similar amount.
The fair market values in the Assessor’s notices do not really tell you what the impact will be on your taxes. Residents have a right to know what will happen to their taxes as a result of the reassessment. With this in mind, the Legislature passed a law that forces the administration to send a second notice showing the tax impacts. Residents should receive this notice in late November or early December.
To compound matters, constituents are reporting that there are numerous problems when they try to reach the Department of Assessment to get more information about the new assessed values. For months I have called on the Administration to create a comprehensive system that could handle the tens of thousands of residents looking for answers.
My colleagues and I in the Legislative Majority will continue to demand that the Administration make this process more transparent, including creating a user-friendly system that will allow taxpayers to get the answers they deserve. We will also continue to demand that the Administration restore the New York State 6% Assessment Cap.
Richard J. Nicolello
Nassau County Legislator