Nassau County Assessor-Elect Harvey Levinson held a meeting in Floral Park for all Town of Hempstead residents Dec. 10 to shed some light on the recent reassessment and what he describes as a "flawed process" that's got everyone utterly confused.
This was the first of several meetings he plans to hold as part of a listening tour to begin creating dialogue with residents. The tour includes five town hall meetings, like the one he held in Farmingdale for Town of Oyster Bay residents Dec. 11, throughout the county as well as additional meetings with the Nassau County chambers of commerce, Nassau County Village Officials Association and the Nassau County Superintendents Association.
Levinson's first priority - listen to the taxpayers. Residents and business owners from the Town of Hempstead came prepared with their '02, '03 and '04 school tax bills as well as copies of their tax impact disclosure notices.
A Bellerose resident suggested Levinson not pursue any further discussion on the issue until he gets a "commitment to the mathematics involved" from the current chairman, Charles O'Shea. Levinson officially takes office in January.
Mike Marino of Garden City, who looked at more than 1,000 properties, said he knows the flaws in the system. "The current assessor's office does not have the expertise or any real knowledge of real estate," he said. "I'm still in the process of grieving my last assessment. Now with this one I just got, I feel like I'll never get out of this mess."
Marino owns a small three bedroom Cape and told Levinson that in 2002, the county valued his house at $554,000. In 2003, the county valued that same house at $758,000. After filing a grievance and winning, Marino's home was valued at $504,000 in 2002, $50,000 less. "Now a month later, I get a letter that states my house is worth $758,000," he said.
Levinson said the process has left "everyone in a state of confusion" and told Marino that when the review commission didn't realize the value dropped to $504,000, it found five new comparable properties to conduct their second evaluation.
Currently, Levinson said he is examining the maps to determine whether or not they're fair. "Then I'll decide if the company who did it should stay on or not have their contract renewed," he said. "I have not yet made a decision." Marino suggested Levinson re-consider rehiring Cole Layer Trumble, the company that performed the reassessment. "The whole system will never work," Marino said. "It's inaccurate on both sides of the coin."
Levinson thanked residents for coming out and commenting on the issue and said he'd be taking their concerns into consideration and hopes to reduce the grievance challenges by 80 percent, "down to what they are in other parts of the world."