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Every year Nassau County residents are allowed - by law - the opportunity to file a grievance if they believe the county has over-assessed their property.

Individuals who wish to challenge their assessment must file an application with the County's Assessment Review Commission (ARC).

The ARC is an independent administrative tribunal dedicated to providing fair and accurate determinations of taxpayers' requests for review and reduction of assessments. ARC reduces assessments that it finds overvalued, corrects errors in tax class designation and reviews denials of exemptions. ARC cannot increase assessments.

To find out what your property is assessed at, visit the Nassau County Department of Assessment's website at www.mynassauproperty.com or call 571-1500.

Information is available year round on the Assessment Review Commission's website, www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/ARC/index.html. The online appeal system, AROW - Assessment Review On the Web (www.nassaucountyny.gov/wps51/portal/AROW/) allows homeowners to perform an automated search of recent sales in your area to determine if your home is overvalued.

The deadline to file a grievance is March 2. Nassau County does not charge a filing fee for a grievance.

Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth of the 10th Legislative District (serving Manhasset, excluding Flower Hill and Plandome Manor, Great Neck, North New Hyde Park, North Hills, Manhasset Hills and parts of Herricks) hosted a workshop for homeowners on How to Challenge Your Assessment at the Manhasset Public Library on Feb. 11. Over 200 people attended, with library personnel affirming they "have never had such a big response to a tax reassessment program."

The county assessor is no longer an elected position, following the November elections; in a move decided by a referendum, it is now an appointed position, with the new assessor having begun on Jan 26. Thaddeus (Ted) J. Jankowski Jr. is the new County Assessor replacing Harvey Levinson, who has retired. Jankowski has been asked to review the system, Bosworth said, and suggest reforms making the system more transparent, easier to understand and with that in place inspire greater confidence in the system.

Many villages do their own assessments, the legislator explained, but North Hills, Munsey Park and Plandome Heights use the county assessments.

Bosworth thanked the library for such wonderful community space and introduced her staff members, including two Manhasset residents, Cindy Cardinal and Janet Sarlanis.

Bosworth then introduced Helen McQueen of the Assessment Review Commission who walked the attendees through the application process and answered questions along the way. The ARC has been in existence since 2003 when Nassau County reassessed properties. This year, McQueen said, most received notices from the Department of Assessment showing a decrease in the value of the home, in fact better than 90 percent saw a decrease this year due to the downturn in the economy.

What does that mean for your tax bill? McQueen explained that because so many received reductions it won't change the tax liability when the bills come. The only time it would change is if your home decreases when others around it went up or stayed the same. She noted the market is still changing and they use sales until January to determine if the house value is correct. She said the ARC receives from 100,000 to 130,000 applications a year with between two-thirds and three-fourths of them residential properties.

The ARC website explains: January 2, 2009 is when the Department of Assessment publishes the tentative assessment roll based on value as of that date; March 2, 2009 is the last day to appeal 2010-11 assessment published on January 2009 tentative roll; and March 2, 2009 through April 1, 2010 the ARC reviews appeals and makes determinations.

The website states there is a new assessment for each year and the time to appeal a new assessment ends before the taxes based on that assessment are billed. If you disagree with the most recent assessment, appeal it, even if you are awaiting determination of an appeal you filed last year. Call the office or go online for the status of your appeal.

McQueen listed three ways to file an appeal: hire an attorney or paid representative, fill out a paper application or file online. All methods, she said, were treated equally, though some in the audience disagreed.

In the past, McQueen said, statistically, those who filed on their own had a higher rate of reduction offers because they provided more personal information on the home-live across the street from a noisy school or on a busy street-than attorneys who filed for them. Over time, she said, representatives also include personal data and the rate of reduction offers are now even. She suggested researching the value of your home on AROW, noting there is a 60-day delay. It's a great tool, she said, because you can see similar homes and see the selling price.

For additional information or questions, call Legislator Bosworth at 571-6210.

Jaime L. Tomeo contributed to this article.


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