Residential Settlements Increase by 120% to Save Taxpayers Up to $30 Million
As part of his efforts to completely reform the broken, costly property tax assessment system in Nassau, County Executive Edward P. Mangano today announced that taxpayers will save up to $28 million as a result of his Residential Tax Grievance Negotiation and Settlement Program which reduces taxpayer liability from $30 million annually to under $2 million. For over a decade, Nassau County has failed to settle tax grievances prior to demanding payment. With more than 100,000 tax grievances annually, Nassau’s assessment system has generated an estimated $100 million in property tax refunds annually - $30 million related to residential property tax refunds and $70 million related to commercial property tax refunds. The past failure to settle these grievances has contributed toward the County borrowing over $1.3 billion to pay for tax refunds, costing taxpayers another $150 million annually in debt service payments, for a total of $250 million a year.
“We inherited an assessment system that was dysfunctional in every way,” said County Executive Mangano. “For the first time ever, Nassau County is settling tax grievances prior to demanding payment from our homeowners. This is an important step in the total transformation of the broken property tax assessment system that has pushed Nassau County into fiscal instability. We have finally turned the corner on resolving this problem. This process saves taxpayer's from overpaying while reducing the tax burden on all residents”
Taxpayers will save up to $30 million by the settlement of 81,262 cases – an increase of over 120% over last year’s settlement of 36,460 cases. At the direction of the County Executive, Standard Valuation Services (SVS) was hired to assist the County Attorney’s Office in reviewing and negotiatingapproximately 60,000 residential tax grievances filed for the2011/12 assessment roll, of which the majority of cases were most likely to have gone forward to Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) proceedings. Of 59,705 residential cases, 57,772 grievances were settled prior to collecting tax payments. Together with 23,490 residential settlements negotiated by the Assessment Review Commission, 81,262 cases were settled for a taxpayer savings of up to $30 million, excluding indirect savings related to Court costs and administrative expenses within the Department of Assessment (DOA) and ARC.
Paolo Orsini, owner of Reassessment and Evaluation Services in Garden City and a representative of the Tax Correction Agency stated: “After eight years the taxpayers of Nassau County finally received justice. This program is a great start that is fantastic for homeowners and taxpayers in Nassau. This program is professional and fair and will save Nassau County millions of tax dollars.”
Through intensive around-the-clock negotiations, run seven days a week, the County Attorney’s Office and DOApersonnel settled the majority of residential tax grievance filings with property owners and their representatives. Based on this very successful program, only an estimated 2,000 cases, of the initial 60,000 residential tax grievances, have the potential to go forward with litigation.This is well below the 40,682 cases going to litigation in the prior year. DOA estimates tax refund exposure on these remaining cases at under $1.5 million, resulting in a savings of up to $30 million.
Fred Perry, a Dix Hills attorney, who has represented Nassau homeowners in tax protests over 20 years, claims “the new Residential Tax Grievance Negotiation & Settlement program was an amazing achievement considering the time constraints and volume of protests resolved. Besides saving the County millions in refunds and overhead, this program also represents a major breakthroughfor homeowners by providing speedy and fair assessment relief.”
Continuing his efforts to save taxpayers millions in 2011, County Executive Mangano directed the County Attorney, DOA and ARC to begin settlement negotiations with commercial (class 4) and multiple-dwelling (class 2) property owners for tax year 2011/12. With regards to the 2011/2012 assessment roll, the DOA can make corrections to the 2011/2012 assessment roll until May 2nd.
County Executive Mangano has made reforming Nassau’s property tax assessment system a top priority. This broken tax system costs the average home and business owners 10% more annually on their County property tax bill and has resulted in $1.6 billion in debt and outstanding liabilities owed by Nassau County taxpayers. In early 2010, the Legislature passed the County Executive’s reforms to ensure the County begins correcting assessment errors before demanding payment. Mangano also signed an Executive Order providing certainty to homeowners and businesses by moving Nassau County from an annual to a four-year cyclical assessment system. This new system will allow the County Executive to begin reducing the $100+ million in annual refunds.
Shalom Maidenbaum, Esq. of Rosenfeld & Maidenbaum, LLP, who has been in the property tax reduction field for over 20 years successfully reducing hundreds of thousands of assessments of properties for a multitude of taxpayers in Nassau County, states “as ever increasing municipal budgets and obligations have adversely impacted on the already over taxed home and business owners in Nassau County, it is encouraging to see that the present administration under Edward P. Mangano has harkened to the call of the taxpayers for review and conference of their assessments. While ultimately true tax relief can only be achieved through reduced spending and reducing long term municipal obligations, we at Rosenfeld & Maidenbaum, LLP, applaud the new County approach to working with the taxpayers and taxpayer representatives. We hope the County continues to pursue the present course of action in bringing back sanity and fairness to the appeal process.”
In October 2010, the Legislature passed Mangano's plan to eliminate the County Guarantee, which requires schools and towns that receive tax dollars in error, to pay back those tax dollars. This plan does not take effect until 2013, thereby allowing over two years for the reforms passed earlier this year to take effect and reduce liability for all. The implementation of residential and commercial settlement programs will reduce liability prior to this expiration of the County Guarantee. Each step County Executive Mangano has taken plays an important role in addressing the broken property tax assessment system.