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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
New plan: let the town do it
County considering letting others handle assessments

One of the newest ideas to fix Nassau County’s broken assessment system is also going to be one of the most difficult to implement: let someone else do it.

The county is exploring the possibility of letting towns and other local municipalities handle the assessments on its behalf. Local governments, which the county believes would provide more accurate assessment numbers, would perform the actual assessments and give the numbers to the county.

“It’s something we’re exploring,” said Nassau County Spokesman Brian Nevin. “Nassau County is the only county in the state that assesses county-wide. Everyone else does it on the town level. The town’s just have more integral knowledge of the properties in their jurisdiction, and it’s easier than assessing at a county-wide level. And a lot of villages in the county already do their own assessments.”

The idea comes from a team formed by County Executive Edward Mangano to explore options for the assessment system. The team also explored the idea of having a private company perform assessments, but it wasn’t feasible. “There were only two or three companies that were capable of assessing properties,” Nevin said, “and they’re already working with the villages.”

Before the county’s latest idea could become reality, there are a few key hurdles that need to be cleared. The first, Nevin said, is that the county needs to win the County Guarantee lawsuit that it currently in court.

For decades, Nassau County had what was known as the County Guarantee: if your assessment was lowered after a challenge, the county would refund the error. The problem for the county was that, while county taxes amount to about 20 cents of every tax dollar collected, it was refunding the full dollar to residents, covering the school and village portions of tax refunds. In 2011, Mangano proposed to end the County Guarantee and was met by a lawsuit from school districts across the county.

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