Curran signs order changing the way properties are assessed

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed an executive order Wednesday that will change the way property values are assessed in the county.

News 12 has reported for years that many Nassau residents routinely challenged their property assessments and won, forcing the county to pay millions in tax refunds. Meanwhile, those who failed to challenge their assessments often saw their property taxes rise.

On Wednesday, the county executive signed an executive order changing the ratio at which properties are assessed. She says the result will be a fair and accurate assessment roll.

MORE: News Conference on Executive Order

MORE: Ask the County Executive - Sept. 25 with Laura Curran

“It shouldn't be incumbent upon the taxpayer to file, to hire an attorney, to go to court, to basically make it a full-time job to get their correct assessment,” says Curran. “That is our job, and that is what this does.”

Legislative Republicans are accusing Curran and the county assessor of looking at the issue in a vacuum. They say in reality, many Nassau taxpayers will be hurt.

Rich Nicolello, the Nassau County Legislature's presiding officer, says the new assessments “could be enough to drive seniors on a fixed income out of their house.”

He says changing the assessment ratio would put taxpayers at risk.

“By allowing the unelected assessor to pick a new number, they are getting around state law that limits assessed value increases,” says Nicolello.

Assessment expert Jeff Gold says Curran's move will allow the county to successfully defend against assessment challenges, but he says the net result for residents will differ from household to household.

“A rough analysis shows that 50 percent of the residents will go up, 50 percent will go down – most will stay within a $1,000 or $2,000 of where they are now,” he says.

Alan Stein, of North Bellmore, says he's not sticking around to see how this will affect him. His house is in foreclosure.

“Fourteen-thousand dollars a year in taxes is no joke. That's why I'm moving – I can’t afford to live on Long Island anymore,” he says.

Curran is proposing state legislation that would protect taxpayers from sudden, drastic changes to their tax bills as a result of her executive order. The county executive says talks are already underway with lawmakers in Albany.

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