Playing the Assessment Game
To the Editor:
I was prompted to write this letter in response to all the news articles appearing in local papers pertaining to the past and present assessment system. For I was once a member of the residential assessment reform team for Nassau County. I was also the only nonprofessional on the team having won several challenges on my own by using my acquired knowledge of the system. I guess I can also be called nonpartisan in working with Harvey Levinson, a Democratic, running for Chief County Assessor and later with the current County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, by taking part in his reform team.
During the time that the team worked on the assessment issues we provided the county with a number of recommendations and formulated the Nassau County Homeowners’ Bill of Rights’ list and commentary. It was my understanding that this written document was created to guide the county in providing a more transparent functioning system and informing property owners of their rights but that never seem to happen. In my role as part of this committee appointment I took it upon myself to study the operating procedure manuals of both the Department of Assessment and the Assessment Review Commission.
I can now say that neither one follows their own documents when it comes to evaluating properties and communicating their findings to the public.
I am as dismayed and frustrated as many homeowners who have been victimized by this process. I believe however that these tax challenge firms do provide a public service, under present circumstances, for those who are unwilling or incapable of challenging these erroneous numbers on their own. These two numbers, which come out yearly, are generated with no explanation and no transparency with regard to their makeup. I believe that the county is unable to do any better than what it is doing now and that’s the real problem. When I approached a ranking member of the county legislature about the shortcomings of the assessment process I was told that they know that problems exist but in order to collect the needed taxes to fulfill the ever rising budget requirements that this system has become the only game in town.
Former member of A.R.T.