Written by Story and Photos by Linda Portney Goldstein Wednesday, 03 July 2013 17:59
Business owners in Manorhaven were surprised when they opened their most recent tax bill to see a 51 percent increase in their village taxes. The rate went from $69.50 per $100 of assessed valuation for 2012-2013 to $105 per $100 for the tax year 2013-2014. The new rate was effective on July 1.
Several business owners contacted by the Port Washington News said they hadn’t really looked at their tax bill yet, but when told of the increase responded with amazement. Zelik Ziegelbaum, RPT, and owner of a physical therapy center located on Manorhaven Boulevard said he understands “that the village needs revenue, but they should be encouraging businesses to come to Manorhaven. This discourages current and prospective business owners. The economy is still weak.” Ziegelbaum said his business, which provides a health care service and is viewed by many to be recession proof, has suffered as people lose jobs and medical insurance coverage. Those fortunate enough to still have insurance are subjected to higher co-payments which they can’t afford. “We have been very much affected by the downturn in the econmomy and this tax increase will compound financial pressure for many businesses here in the village. Just look at the vacancies along the street,” he said.
Larger business owners seemed well aware of the tax increase. Guy LaMotta, the owner of Manhasset Bay Marina and La Motta’s on the Bay, said his lawyer is looking into the legality of singling out one class of taxpayer in such a disproportionate manner. He also said that “the increase exceeds the 2 percent state cap.” Whether or not the cap applies to an individual class of taxpayers may require a ruling by the state or the courts. LaMotta says he has been in business in the village for 49 years and actions like this chase business owners out. “Two years ago the county re-assessed all property and my assessed evaluation went up by 20 percent, effectively increasing my taxes. School taxes keep going up and now this,” says LaMotta. “They are chasing business out of the village.”
Village Trustee Lucretia Steele emphasizes that the village uses Nassau County assessed valuations therefore has no control over property valuations and understands the frustration of commercial business owners who experienced an increase in taxes because of the re-assessment conducted by the county.
However, according to Steele, the current administration has set out to stop and hopefully reverse a trend that started in the 2005-2006 tax year, when residential rates jumped from $20.31 per $100 of assessed valuation to $42 per $100 while commercial rates went from $64 to $69 per $100. During the next six years the residential tax rate continued to increase, ending in 2012-2013 at a whopping $134 per $100. During the same period the commercial rate decreased in some years and went up in others. The net effect in the last tax year was a commercial tax rate of $69 per $100 of assessed valuation.
Steele says that the village objective “is to right an inequity. We are hoping to be able to begin to lower the residential tax rate next year. We have a unique situation in Manorhaven in that many of our business owners are also residents and they will benefit from the government holding the line on residential taxes this year and hopefully a decrease in their taxes in future years.” However Steele could not say how many of the 125 commercial property owners actually reside in Manorhaven.
Surrounding villages, such as Port Washington North and Baxter Estates, maintain the same tax rate for residential and commercial properties.
Villages in Great Neck and Mineola have different tax rates for commercial and residential properties. In these villages the commercial tax rates are higher than the residential rates. Village governments also have a choice of whether to base their village taxes on Nassau County assessed valuations or their own valuations. Port Washington North does its own valuations and Baxter Estates uses the county’s.