Residents Thought They Were Getting A Break; Instead, Double-Digit Increases

EAST WILLISTON, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There’s a tax shock in the mail for thousands of homeowners. School tax bills are out and some will have to shell out hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of dollars more this year, just when they thought their taxes were finally under control.

It’s bad news for Nassau County homeowners. School tax bills for many are drastically higher — double digits higher, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reportedly exclusively on Friday.

“I open the bill and I’m shocked to see that my school tax bill went up 16 and a half percent,” Sheri Baker said.

Baker, an East Williston School District resident, was expecting a tiny tax increase — a state tax cap is in place and her school budget went up only 2 percent.

But instead she’s been hit with sticker shock.

“I’m looking at it and I’m thinking what happened?” Baker said.

Baker’s not alone. The same thing is happening across Nassau, where tax receivers’ phones are ringing with complaints. The problem is they don’t oversee tax assessments –the county does.

In Jericho, the tax rate is up nearly 12 percent.

In Lawrence, it’s up 15 percent.

In Westbury, it’s up 19 percent.

In Roosevelt, a whopping 29 percent – and the list goes on and on.

School board members said they’re angry, too, because they’ve trimmed budgets.

“To still have these homeowners’ tax rates go up 11-19 percent is absurd and the blame is being placed on school districts and has nothing to do with school districts,” East Williston School Board president Mark Kamberg said.

So, who or what’s to blame? Not school districts because they’re not getting more money. Critics said blame a broken Nassau assessment system.

One-third of Nassau homeowners file grievances and many earn tax reductions. Commercial taxes have been reduced. The difference is made up by everyone else.

“You have to decide if you’re going to pay that or move,” one county said.

“What people perceived as a tax cap that was going to limit their tax increase to 2 percent does anything but,” said Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink, a Democrat from Roslyn.

Lawmakers said it’s a huge shift in everyone’s share of the tax levy, so some will get a pleasant surprise in the mail. The others are faced with higher school taxes than they have ever imagined.

A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano explained how the tax rate is derived but did not address reason for the large shifts this year.

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