Whether combating the opioid epidemic, tracking hurricanes, or fixing Nassau County’s corrupted property assessment system, when it comes to responsible government, data matters.
New County Assessor David Moog and I found troubling data after we delved deep into the latest residential property values. An assessment-data expert further analyzed our discovery. The data — developed by the Department of Assessment and a reliable county contractor — came from Nassau’s first reassessment of every property since 2010.
The data showed a gulf between new and old residential property values. Why? The old valuations were grossly inaccurate.
Property values in the real world were rising. But the county’s assessment roll was frozen. Annual rounds of successful property tax challenges resulting in assessment reductions compounded the problem.
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners grieve their assessments annually, which is their right. Most win a reduction. But property owners shouldn’t have to grieve to get their correct assessment. It’s our job to get it right.
Nassau could not defend against this annual avalanche of up to 200,000 grievances, and was forced into mass annual settlements. Why did the county lose so many grievances? Because the county was unable to defend the uniform level of assessment of .25 percent using the inaccurate market values under the old system.
I’d planned to use that same number, after the reassessment — until I saw the troubling data. That data, when combined with the impact of the prior administration’s stipulation with taxpayer representatives, showed that the county would basically have the same assessment roll as the corrupted, frozen roll if we kept the level of assessment at .25 percent.
That means we’d have done all the hard work on the new assessments to end up where we started — with an indefensible assessment roll and the need for hundreds of thousands of mass annual settlements. Again.
I take very seriously my pledge to clean up the assessment mess, and I am going to do just that — starting with a new, defensible level of home value assessment of .10 percent.
What does this new level of assessment mean for homeowners? They will retain the right to challenge their assessment. And they can learn how the new level of assessment will impact individual property rates with a comprehensive outreach effort effort starting November 1 that includes in-person appointments and an online campaign.
I will protect taxpayers from the shift in rates with proposed New York State legislation providing transitional caps on any relative assessment increases over five years. And with new property values recaptured on the assessment roll, many taxpayers will see a reduction in taxes.
We will get an assessment roll that is both defensible and accurate for all county homeowners. And as more data becomes available in the coming weeks, I will share it. That is my guarantee to every property taxpayer – full transparency as we fix the mess left by the prior administration.