A new year often means a chance for a new start for many people, but for Nassau County it means a new tax roll for property owners.
While the tax roll has been maligned and dreaded by residents who grieve their assessments annually, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced the issuance of the tentative roll of 2012-13 Monday at the , which he said will reflect "justice and fairness" in the assessment system.
The tentative tax roll, which is set be finalized on April 1, 2012, reflects judgments and settlements for both private and commercial property owners.
"It ends the cycle of creating the same error year after year after year," Mangano said. "For the first time ever, those notices will reflect the justice taxpayers sought with respect to their grievances. It is absolutely the first year that we could make these types of changes in."
Assessment notices were mailed out Monday and should be received by homeowners this week. Each notice lists how the property value was obtained and determined.
If property owners believe their assessment is not reflective of their current property and a typographical error has been made,they should contact the at 516-571-1500. If property owners disagree with their assessment between Jan. 1 and March 1 over an aspect of their assessment other than a typographical error, they must file an official grievance. Mangano said that the department of assessment was using this time to once again review the tax rolls.
"We recognize that due to the national economic collapse...the real estate market in Nassau County for both residential and commercial properties has experienced a significant downturn," Nassau County Department of Assessment's Transition Team Chairman Gregory Hild said, adding that because of the economic climate, the lowest possible value for each property was chosen. "That's fair and equitable to all property owners."
Mangano made it a sticking point of his 2008 campaign to change the county assessment from an annual to a cyclical process. The first year of the new four-year cycle will be 2012-13.
However, Mangano said Monday that "each year we will refine this roll." Property owners will still have the chance to grieve their assessment and assessments will change if the home has an addition or alteration. "While it is a cyclical roll, it will be a roll that's updated each year," Mangano said.
Assessing Nassau's estimated 418,000 parcels of land each year has resulted in approximately $250 million in errors annually, which Mangano blames as the , calling the assessment department's computer system "dysfunctional." Much of the blame has been laid on the county's outdated Wang computer systems.
"There's a very complicated program that produces these 418,000 assessments on an annual basis," Mangano said, adding that the move to a cyclical assessment system would allow the necessary time to review the rolls. "Right now it took an enormous amount of work just to have the settlements–which is a commonsense solution–reflected in the technology that's available here in the county."
According to the county executive, Nassau will end its practice of borrowing for such settlements in 2013.
Hild acknowledged that "we've had issues that residents have brought up to us," as well as staff about the Wang computers and said they would be "reviewing that in the near future," but stopped short of giving a time frame, only stating that a "comprehensive review" of all equipment would be conducted.
Hild also declared "over" the practice where a homeowner would go through the grievance process and win a reduction, just to see it increased once again the next year by the department of assessment.
Nassau has by the (NIFA) over its 2011 fiscal budget, which Mangano maintains is balanced. Mangano said that NIFA "should be applauding us" since the fixes to the assessment roll were brought to attention by the state watchdog.
"It's a step," Hild said. "It's an ongoing process."