(Editor's Note: The following letter was sent to Newsday reporter Joseph Mallia in response to a Jan. 25 article regarding Nassau County Board of Assessors Chairman Harvey Levinson's plans to audit Nassau County library districts. It is reprinted here with the author's permission. For more information on the audit, see page 3 of this issue.)
I am compelled to write in response to your article today regarding Nassau library taxes hitting the poorest the hardest. [Nassau County Board of Assessor Chairman Harvey] Levinson is doing all taxpayers of Nassau County a great disservice through his oversimplified chart that is guaranteed to skew the tax figures to support his argument by picking an arbitrary valuation number and ignoring adjusted base proportions that adjust each district's per capita expense to each of the four property classes.
The $350,000 figure chosen for his chart represents higher valued homes in some districts while representing a small proportion of homes in other districts. In my district, the majority of the homes are valued much higher than the $350,000 chosen by Mr. Levinson, which means that the average homeowner is paying substantially higher than the figure in the chart. Mr. Levinson knows that there are many variables that create a specific property's tax, and within any town there is great discrepancy based on a property's valuation.
We are one of the newest districts in Nassau County created by order of the New York State Education Department. We have had a tax problem since our creation based solely on when our district was created. This problem can be solved by Mr. Levinson's office, but to date his office has not provided any assistance to our district. Our Class I property owners are paying almost double what they pay for water and fire protection. This discrepancy arises from a different adjusted base proportion, a number calculated by the assessor's office to apportion taxes among the four property classes.
According to Mr. Levinson's office, our adjusted base proportion is so much higher because the other districts were established under the old valuation system and our district was created after the reassessment. Mr. Levinson's office has told us that we can change our legislation to correct this problem, but to date his office has not provided our district with the necessary language. Three years later, this problem remains and we continue to get no assistance from Mr. Levinson's office.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss our situation in more detail. We have struggled for over three years to correct this problem while our residential taxpayers have had to pay more than they should for our library tax. Our board took the brunt of taxpayer anger when the taxes were almost doubled from what had been expected. We have had absolutely no help from Mr. Levinson, who is the only person that can fix our problem. His office only says that what we and Senator [Michael] Balboni have done is wrong [and] says they know what needs to be done yet they don't provide it to us. We are in danger of going into a fourth year with this problem unless we get the necessary language from the assessor's office, since we have to submit the language to Albany for approval.
Peter F. McDonnell
President, Carle Place Library Funding District