Due to an overwhelming response by the public at the January meeting on reassessment, Nassau County Legislator Craig Johnson called a second meeting on Feb. 19. This meeting was held at the Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington. This forum lasted three and one-half hours with approximately 350 people in attendance.
Harvey B. Levinson, chairman of Nassau County Board of Assessors (second from left) and Nassau County Legislator Craig Johnson (on right) with representatives from Assessment Review Commission.
Nassau County Assessor Harvey Levinson and representatives from the Assessment Review Commission were present to answer questions and offer assistance. Procedures for filing a grievance to the Nov. '03 Tax Impact Disclosure Notice concerning the new property assessments to go into effect as of 2005 were discussed. Grievances must be filed and postmarked by the March 1, 2004 deadline. Reassessments are planned to continue in Nassau County each year for the next five years with the right to grieve the new assessment by the March deadline each year.
As a result of so many homeowners voicing their opinion at the previous meeting, Sherrill Robinson, a local resident, circulated a petition at this meeting in appeal that the increases are phased in. This petition was addressed to Governor George E. Pataki and all local representatives. It stated, "As a result of a recent court-ordered reassessment in Nassau County of all residential properties, many residents will see property tax increases of 30-60 percent or more in one year, and do believe this to be an injustice. We the undersigned respectfully request that an emergency tax moratorium be imposed effective immediately, so that the Real Property Tax Law which limits assessment increases to no more than 6 percent in one year or 20 percent over five years, be adhered to. We do not want to be taxed out of the community we love and the homes we have worked for. We need property tax relief now and to be assured of "Tax Hike" protection in the future." Residents were eager to sign the petition and many signatures were collected.
One 77-year-old woman stated that she must work a 40 hour week to pay her taxes. She said she was there to represent other seniors who are drowning by their increase. She mentioned that after working hard all their lives to build this community, they now felt as if they were being forced out. Homeowners voiced their outrage and opinion of unfairness and discrimination of the sudden impact of their tax increases not being phased in proportionally as is the case with the businesses and co-ops
It was determined that state tax exemptions, such as the Star and Veterans, have been decreased due to the new formulas used to determine property tax amounts. This situation will be investigated for adjustments to be made. Also, many homeowners questioned if they will receive money back with interest for overpayments due to information on file with the assessment department being incorrect, or they if have won their grievances. The answer was yes, they should.
Levinson vowed to attack the problems and have them resolved. He said he wanted the position as assessor so that he could ensure that the proper corrections would be made to the system. He was sympathetic and appeared to be well aware of the great hardships imposed on homeowners. To alleviate this, he developed a four-point plan to appeal for assistance in Albany. His plan is available for review on the Internet at www.co.nassau.ny.us. (Go to assessor/press release.)
According to the press release Levinson's four-point plan would: (1) Allow for a multi-year phase-in of all increases in assessments that occur as a result of changes in a property's full market value for properties with an assessed value under $1.5 million; (2) Allow owners with large property tax increases to pay in installments for the second half of the current (2003-04) property tax year only; (3) Allow the Board of Assessors to base assessments for taxing purposes on the full market value of a property; (4) Provide a cap that limits assessment increases to Class 1 (Residential) properties with an assessed value under $1.5 million commencing with the 2006-07 tax year. The cap would be set at 6 percent above the increase in residential assessments. By 2006-07, it is anticipated that few properties will see increases in assessed value high enough to trigger the cap.
At the meeting, Levinson stated that property taxes do not have to keep going up, even if homes continue to appreciate and increase in value. How is this possible? The answer is: If enough revenue comes in to meet the budget on the tax role. But with the school budget comprising approximately 65 percent of the tax bill and if increases continue at the present rate in addition to more spending by the tax districts, there is no end in sight. The taxpayer will continue to drown. So we can ask the questions, "Is a county or local income tax the answer?" That was a suggestion at the end of the meeting. Letters to the editor are welcome on this subject, and on how costs can be kept down concerning the tax roll.
The last complete reassessment in Nassau County was done in 1938. HHe It will take time until all the quirks are ironed out of the reassessment system and fair, accurate adjustments are made.