CHSD challenges Nassau County on property tax increases

In photo, three new board members, students from Kennedy, Mepham and Calhoun. from left are Rebecca Peretz of Calhoun, Rachel Fein, Mepham and Rohan Nagpal of Kennedy.

 

At its regular Wednesday night meeting Central High School District’s Cynthia Strait Regal, deputy superintendent for business, lashed out at Nassau County for its insistence that the district was responsible for the steep property tax increases many in the district are now getting in their mailbox.

Many are experiencing increases of $400 and more, while others are seeing their property taxes reduced by 20%. She said any higher increases than the 3.48% increase the state granted to the district to charge are due to grievances won by many homeowners, making those who didn’t grieve bear the burden of those who did.

“School tax bills recently arrived and once again, we all learned that school districts are spending too much and taxing too high,” said County Executive Edward Mangano 7in letter distributed recently. “I have … been commended by the State of New York for cost-cutting measures that resulted in no tax hike for residents. To blame school tax hikes on the county is wrong,” he added.

In her presentation, called The Nassau County Tax Debacle, Regal points out that total assessed value for the CHSD went down 2.83%, from $28,744,925 in 2012-13, to 27,931,978 in 2013-14.

She notes that, according to the county assessor, an average home in Bellmore went from 992 in 2012-13 to 957 in 2013-14, for a decrease in 3.53%; in North Merrick, from 894 to 865, a 3.24% decrease; in North Bellmore, from 845 to 822, a 2.72% decrease; and Merrick, 1099 to 1053, a decrease of 4.18%.

She then presents taxes calculated on an average home in 2012/13 with the new 2013/14 information provided by the county assessor’s office: in 2012/13, Bellmore, $4302; North Bellmore, $3570; Merrick, $4771; and North Merrick, $3610; and in 2013-14, Bellmore, $4274, for a .66% decrease; North Bellmore, $3578, for a .21% increase; Merrick, $4744, for a .58% decrease; and North Merrick, $3593, for a .46% decrease.

Regal then showed a slide explaining the average tax increases homes who grieved their taxes received: Bellmore, a 2.80% difference; North Bellmore, a 3.69% difference; Merrick, a 2.88% difference; and North Merrick, a 3.01% difference.

For those who didn’t grieve and were not reduced: Bellmore, a 6.56% increase; North Bellmore, a 6.59% increase; Merrick a 7.37% increase; and North Merrick, a 6.46% increase.

She remarked that any percent increase above the 3.48% is due to changes in assessment, both total and per property and changes in adjusted base proportions. She said these are not the responsibility of the district, but are indeed the responsibility of the county.

She said that the CHSD tax levy increased by 3.48% and, if all things were equal the portion of the tax bill attributable to the district would also increase by 3.48%.

She noted that the ‘sticker shock,’ the difference between the tax levy increase and the calculated increase in taxes, in the four towns was: Bellmore’s tax increase of 6.56%, with a 3.08% sticker shock above the 3.48% tax levy; North Bellmore’s 6.59% increase, with a 3.11% sticker shock; Merrick’s 7.37% increase, with a 3.89% sticker shock; and North Merrick’s 6.46% increase, with a 2.98% sticker shock.

She concluded that the county’s assessment practices are placing ‘horrific’ increases on district residents because its tax levy was reasonable and within state guidelines.

Brian Nevin, policy advisor to County Executive Mangano, in response to requests from this magazine for a response, provided documentation from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Office of Real Estate Property Tax Services, on the common myths and misunderstanding of taxes and assessments:

“Myth 2: It’s important to distinguish between taxes and assessments. If you feel your taxes are too high, you should take that up with the town board, school board, or other governing authority that is determining tax levies and setting the tax rates. If you feel your assessment is too high, there are administrative and judicial processes where you can seek to have your assessment lowered.

Assessments should be based on market value, and if you feel your assessment is too high, your first step in confirming that is to determine your property’s market value. The best way to do this is to look at the sale prices of similar properties in similar neighborhoods.

If you still feel that your assessment is too high, we recommend that you informally discuss your concerns with your assessor. More information on the grievance process is available from your assessor’s office and online: http://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/default.htm.

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