MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Homeowners in Nassau County are fed up with property tax assessments resulting in under-valued houses.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, local realtors say homes could be sold for 50 percent more than their current assessments.

There are breaks for people who file appeals, but those who don’t are stuck with bigger bills. Now, there’s a plan to fix the system.

“I think people (are) just kind of being cheated,” a Hicksville resident told McLogan.

“We have to cover the refunds for the school districts,” said Kevin Lowry, of Rockville Centre.

For decades, families have begged to get the county’s antiquated, confusing property tax assessment rolls fixed. Their complaints echo a common theme:

“Challenge the taxes every year,” one woman said.

“Make it fair and equitable,” said another.

“The game is kind of skewed away from the homeowner,” another man added.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is making good on her campaign pledge but overruling an original agreement with the Legislature, signing an executive order to lower the rate at which homes are assessed from .25 to .1 percent to get back to fair-market values.

“For the first time in many years, we will have a defensible tax roll,” said Curran. “We won’t be in a position where we will have to do mass settlements. Our assessments will make sense to property owners, because they will reflect fair market value.”

The tax rolls were frozen for eight years under former county executive Ed Mangano’s administration.

Out of 424,000 property owners in the county, more than half filed annual grievances, reducing their bills but driving up tax bills for the half who didn’t protest.

So is Curran’s the best solution?

“We are adamantly opposed to it,” said Nassau County Majority Leader Richard Nicolello.

The Republican majority says Curran has manipulated numbers to essentially remove protective state tax caps.

“We’d have to go property by property. But if your assessed value goes up 20 percent, you are paying 20 percent more in taxes that year,” Nicolello said.

Curran defends the legality, saying it will be a bumpy but fair ride. She wants the new assessment phased in over five years so that no homeowner will see dramatic tax swings. She’s now working with state lawmakers for protections.

Property owners will get a notice of their new values by early next month and their tentative assessments in January.

The county executive also wants the County Legislature to approve a state-of-the-art tax assessment software program that residents can easily access and understand.


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