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Friday, November 21, 2014

Alfonse D'Amato
The worst of Sandy's wrath may still be on its way

Months after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc and left behind heartache on Long Island, many Nassau and Suffolk County residents who suffered little, if any, damage in the storm are still going to be hit hard in the coming months — in their pocketbooks, with higher taxes.

In an op-ed in Newsday on March 9, columnist Joye Browne pointed out that South Shore residents have already started to line up for lower property tax assessments of their damaged properties. Those lines are expected to lengthen significantly, as deadlines for assessment adjustments are quickly approaching in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

After the storm ravaged Long Island, leaving a trail of destruction, properties that suffered damage are worth significantly less than their assessed value before the storm. This means that less tax revenue will be generated by local municipalities. According to Brown, economists have predicted that many property owners will see their taxes reduced by 50 percent or more due to the new assessments.

The big question is, who will make up for the shortfall of revenue to school districts, counties, towns and other municipalities?

Unless there is comprehensive state legislation dealing with this issue, the remaining home and business owners will suffer with huge increases in their property taxes. Those in areas not impacted by Sandy will see dramatic tax increases to make up for the shortfall in revenue caused by the lowered assessments, and therefore lower revenues, from damaged properties.

It is absolutely essential that the State Legislature pass legislation utilizing Sandy relief money to help make up for the shortfalls in revenues to the various municipalities and school districts. Failure to enact legislative relief of this kind will result in an incredible and unprecedented economic burden on our residents.

The problem is exacerbated further here on Long Island due to the fact that property taxes are the primary revenue source for school funding. This is bad news for many of the schools on the South Shore that were devastated by the storm.

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