Nassau County Legislator Barbara Johnson (D-Port Washington) is outraged by a recent revision of tax rates that may send some property taxes soaring.
"I'm especially concerned that my district will be hard hit," said Legislator Johnson, adding that "the tax that was originally estimated before the school budget vote could go much higher."
The convoluted sequence of events began last December when the State Office of Real Property Service in Albany issued new equalization for all four classes in property in Nassau County.
The tax mix-up was not widely known by school officials prior to the Island-wide school budget vote in May, who based their estimated tax increases on last year's tax rates.
"The process by which this surprise tax occurred is flawed," said Legislator Johnson. "I am anxious to see some major changes in the process so that these figures will be available to school officials and homeowners prior to the Island-wide school vote."
Some sources state that 34 of the 56 school districts in Nassau County will be facing possible increases.
"I am calling for a committee to be formed, consisting of school superintendents, lawmakers and taxpayers, to help with this process next year so that we don't have the same disastrous results," Legislator Johnson said.
While the measure passed before the Legislature, Legislator Johnson was joined by fellow Democrats when she voted no against the new adjusted base proportions. Adjusted based proportions determine the share of school taxes paid by each class of property.
Legislator Johnson and her assistant Wayne Wink attended a meeting of the General Council of Homeowners to express their deep concern over the proposed increase in the base proportion tax rate for homeowners.
As a result of their visit, the General Council developed the following resolution:
"Be it resolved that the General Council urges the Nassau County Legislature, in adopting certifications of the base proportions that are utilized in calculating school tax rates for the various taxpayer classes, not discriminate against Class I (homeowner) taxpayers. As a result of the county's action in challenging the equalization rates set by the state, school tax rates for Port Washington homeowners are likely to increase by 7.2 percent instead of 4.6 percent. The county instead should adopt an allocation formula that treats the various classes fairly.
Also present at the meeting was school board member Nancy Cowles who stressed that the school board formulated its budget for 1998 based on the assumption that there would be no significant change in the base proportion tax rate.
At press time, the Port News learned that on Monday, June 29, the Nassau County Legislature certified the new base proportions in a 17-2 vote. Legislator Johnson was one of the two who voted against certification.
In a phone conversation, legislative assistant Wayne Wink commented that in his estimation, Port Washington homeowners are in the top third of the list of areas that will be "hard" hit by the new base proportions.