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Nassau Dems urge GOP to pass reassessment plan

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Nassau Democratic lawmakers are urging the county Legislature’s presiding officer, Richard Nicolello, and Republican lawmakers to pass County Executive Laura Curran’s plan to stretch property-tax changes over five years.

At a June 5 news conference in Mineola, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said Republicans were “playing politics” instead of “protecting taxpayers from the consequences of a mess the previous administration and its enablers chose to create.”

Curran’s five-year “Taxpayer Protection Plan” would phase in the new values that taxpayers would see on their homes following the county’s first reassessment since 2011, when the former county executive, Ed Mangano, a Republican, froze tax rolls at that year’s levels.

The New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo approved the phase-in plan in April as part of the $175.5 billion state budget for 2019-20. Now, it is up to the Republican-controlled county Legislature to authorize it.

According to Curran, 95 percent of homeowners will see their market values increase under the reassessment, but only 45 percent would face higher property taxes as a result under the phase-in plan. The remaining 55 percent would see a reduction.

This contrasts with a report by the county’s budget review office last year, which stated that 48.1 percent of homeowners would see tax reductions and 51.9 percent would see increases. According to county officials, the changes are due to tax exemptions and other adjustments made at the end of last year.

Republican officials have “foreclosed any other option” and are agreeing to pass the five-year phase-in plan, according to Chris Boyle, a spokesman for the Legislature’s Republican majority. They are waiting, however, until they can assure residents that the assessments “are correct and came from a fair and accurate process,” he said.

“Regrettably, Laura Curran has utilized an assessment roll that is riddled with errors and over-assessments,” he said. “The Republicans in the Legislature are exploring these issues to protect residents from the county executive's back-door reassessment tax. The Democrats should be doing the same to protect their constituents."

Boyle noted that Republicans have roughly a year to pass the bill in time for it to take effect for the 2020-2021 assessment roll. “There's no need to rush into anything,” he said.

Abrahams said, though, that residents should have time to prepare for a potential tax increase. He urged the Republican majority to vote on the plan at the June 24 legislative meeting.

“I want our residents to understand that there is a plan that will provide them with tax relief,” Abrahams said, adding that the Republican majority has “milked” the reassessment issue for political gain.

“The majority, for quite some time, has talked about the need to ensure that taxpayers have fairness,” Abrahams said. “How much more fair could it be if you’re talking about phasing in their assessments over the next five years? This needs to act now.”