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County Executive Touts Assessment Reforms

Claims millions have been saved for Nassau County taxpayers

Denouncing what he called a “dysfunctional” assessment system, County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced that for the first time in county history, there will be zero liability in the assessment system, an achievement that the county executive also claimed would save taxpayers $30 million, including $4.3 million a year in the labor assessment process.

Flanked by several county workers, Mangano praised their diligence, while mapping out a future assessment process for the county. Noting that the majority of municipalities in New York State perform assessments on a five-year period, Mangano said that while the county is currently on a four-year period, he hopes to up that one year to the five year total that he believes represents a prudent assessment system. In addition to a five-year plan, Mangano laid out two other goals. The first is to “stop the debt from growing and then [to] reverse it.” The second, he added, was to “find a better, intelligent system to handle assessments,” including computer software.

In all, the assessment system, Mangano said, had generated $1.6 billion in debt and $100 million in errors annually for the past decade. For now, Mangano lauded his residential assessment team for acting at the “earliest possible stages” to achieve the zero liability rate. For the past year, he said that 116,000 residential claims had been filed, amounting to one-third of all homes in the county. Of that number, 20-30 percent of the claimants lost their cases, an assessment worker said.

While touting the zero liability, Mangano continued his critique of what he termed as a “dysfunctional, wasteful unique system” that doubled the county debt. He added that the county needs to study a new system for evaluating assessments, including the use of computer technology. But he also claimed that the “small error rate” in the assessment process was the result of “years of turmoil.”

While the press conference was taking place, representatives from the Democratic Party caucus in the legislature issued a press release, one claiming that the county, as of this month, has $1.2 billion in outstanding debt related to “tax certs.” The flyer also claimed that the county executive has “asked to borrow hundreds of millions to settle tax cert claims.” It also criticized Mangano for repealing the county guarantee, stating that the county executive was “pushing the [assessment] burden onto the school districts and villages.” It also claimed that future generations will be “stuck with a $1.5 billion bill” and that the “assessment system is still broke and Ed Mangano has done nothing to fix it.”

Following the press conference, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D - Hempstead) issued his own statement.

“Once again we get twilight zone fantasies from Ed Mangano,” the statement read. “Far from addressing the real problems in our assessment system—the outstanding liability of $336 million that taxpayers will be on the hook for, or having any sort of plan to deal with commercial assessments, [which is] the bulk of refunds the county owes, at best he has put a cast on his pinkie toe when the entire leg is shattered. At the end of the day, the assessment system is worse under Mangano and he continues to do nothing of substance to really fix it.”

Also during the press conference, Mangano was apparently aware of the flyer being circulated among reporters and other attendees. He said that the debt in question was created prior to his taking office and that assessment reform had been an important issue to him since his days as a county legislator, adding that as a member of the Republican minority, he had sought to hold hearings on the assessment system for “six years in a row” while reiterating that there are currently no future liabilities that have been created on the residential assessment rolls.