After he got elected, Edward Mangano’s tax overhaul led to the creation of 2 different property assessment systems that are not only unequal but also separate
The Nassau County Executive’s actions seem to have had a massive impact on the county’s economy.
1 system covers about sixty-one percent of the country’s commercial and residential property owners who went ahead to appeal their assessments in this period. Over the past 7 years, their tax bill went up by 466 dollars or just 5% with basically 4 out of 5 appeals successful.
The second system covers thirty-nine percent of the people that didn’t yet appeal. For these owners, the tax bill went up sevenfold or by almost 36 percent to 2748 dollars.
All of these discoveries have been properly documented in a Newsday series of data studies that currently provides one of the most accurate and comprehensive analyses of the assessment system in the county. These studies are performed with the purpose of exposing hidden difficulties among less affluent residents and senior citizens that usually do not appeal. The studies also shed light on the massive changes in the way tax are distributed within the county between the lower valued and higher valued properties.
Over the past 7 years, the analyses revealed a shift of one point seven billion dollars in taxes from those who appealed their assessments successfully to those that didn’t. It was discovered that 10% of the owners whose appeal was successful had properties of at least one million dollars prior to the reassessment. After it, the reassessment garnered almost 50% of the benefit. What this means is that over seven hundred and ninety million dollars in tax were transferred to lower-valued parcels. As a result, homeowners whose property is worth at least a million dollars are currently paying less in taxes than they did 7 years ago.
The overhaul was very much welcome in an environment where certain people have been paying more taxes than others. This was also due to the fact that in ’97 a suit was filed in this regard, alleging that minority homeowners were paying a lot more taxes than other groups. Functioning under a two thousand court-supervised settlement that requires a great level of assessment accuracy, officials decided to lower the share of less expensive properties and increase taxes on properties worth at least 1 million dollars or more.
After this change, the residential assessments in the county were finally in compliance with all of the widely used professional standards for accuracy and fairness. However, after partnering up with 2 national assessment experts and conducting a residential property data study, Newsday discovered that it is currently non-compliant with all of them.
When county officials were inquired about this, they did not question any of the results. Mangano did go on the defensive, protecting his reforms saying that they can help minimize the costs for the county’s assessment system. He also estimated that thanks to these reforms, the county managed to save between twenty to thirty million dollars a year. He went on to say that every future generation and single taxpayer benefitted from them since they helped the county by not creating debt.
When the county officials had to respond to evidence that stated fewer grievances were filed by less affluent homeowners, they said that they had more than forty workshops per annum with the purpose of explaining the steps homeowners can take to challenge assessments. They even posted a video detailing the process of filing on the internet. This is something which is solely allowed by Nassau County.
The head of the Nassau County grievance arbiter, Robin Laveman, said that the reforms brought by Mangano saved the county a lot of money by replacing a faulty and old system.
Mangano’s purpose was to fix a system that was straining the county budget since many homeowners have already successfully appealed their assessments which resulted in massive refunds.
Thanks to Mangano’s reforms, the county managed to save between one hundred and fifteen million to 299 million dollars, based on different factors, such as the impact of a recently launched program that influences commercial property refunds, and inflation.
First, the solution involved awarding highly discounted reductions on a much greater number of appealed properties than ever. This was done in order to settle cases prior to tax refunds having to be paid in order to save money. Secondly, there was the issue of assessment freezes which resulted in those reductions being locked in from year to year. Over a period of 6 years during which the value of properties went up, seventy-eight percent of the 858 thousand grievances filed resulted in massive reductions, sometimes in double digits.
If we look back in the history of the country, we can notice that it’s generally high-value property owners who file the greatest number of appeals. The effects seem to be apparent in all 3 county property classes which were included in the analyses conducted by Newsday. However, there was a 4th class which was excluded, composed of phone poles and other types of utility properties.
When it comes to the residential class which includes low rise condominium buildings and private homes, the gap between unappealed and appealed properties was even greater. The median tax bill increased by thirty-six percent for unappealed properties, while the appealed properties saw an increase of five percent to 431 dollars.
The median bills are those of regular homeowners, including residential and commercial homeowners, whose burden is in the middle between the smallest and largest bills. In this article, we’re referring to the median bills as the standard ones.
The category including the high-rise condominium buildings and cooperatives, the bills for a standard appealed property rose 4% to 202 dollars compared to sixty percent of 2299 dollars for the unappealed property.
For commercial properties, the gap between the 2 groups was five hundred and eighty-eight dollars. However, this number fails to include the refunds received by properties after battling with courts for years.
Over 6 years, those 1-year disparities will add up. The general tax bill for unappealed property increases was greater than those of appealed properties by eight thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine dollars over that timeframe.