Blakeman says Nassau needs to attract new businesses in State of the County address

Blakeman says Nassau needs to attract new businesses in State of the County address
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman reflected on the accomplishments made throughout Nassau since taking office in January during Monday night's State of the County address. (Photo courtesy of the county executive's office)

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman stressed the importance of bringing new businesses to the county to help make it affordable for current and future residents during his State of the County address on Monday.

After he approached the podium to Tiesto’s “The Business,” Blakeman said attracting new stores to Nassau County will not only provide more jobs, but also make living more affordable by increasing the county’s tax base.

“In order to keep residential properties in check, we must increase our tax base by recruiting new businesses to Nassau County to provide jobs and establish prosperity for all communities,” Blakeman said during the address at the county’s Legislative Chambers. 

Blakeman, a Republican who was elected in November over incumbent Laura Curran, touted his administration’s efforts to combat state-enforced mask mandates related to the coronavirus pandemic, reaching settlements with the Long Island Power Authority and making strides to address an allegedly “broken” reassessment system.

Since taking office, Blakeman was committed to leaving the choice on whether to have students wear masks in the classroom up to their parents and guardians. Prior to the state lifting the requirement to enforce the mandate in schools, Blakeman received criticism from Democratic officials on the local and state levels. On Monday, the county executive touted the work of health care workers and first responders who helped combat the pandemic, but reiterated his stance on having parents decide what is best for their children.

Blakeman said that the tentative settlement between the county and the power authority is something the Legislature “must” approve and sympathized with the school districts impacted by the ongoing litigation, including the North Shore school district.

“To not settle on these terms would be gross malpractice to the part of all county officials,” Blakeman said. “We understand and we are sympathetic to the two school districts affected by this litigation.”

The tentative settlement will result in the $59 million annual tax bill on the two power plants being reduced to $32 million over the next five years, according to a news release. Authority officials said a tax certiorari trial scheduled for May 31 would have reduced the tax assessments on the two plants by at least 70 percent.

Officials also said the settlement continues guaranteed payments to three school districts, including the North Shore school district, through 2027 and “protects Nassau’s taxpayers from hundreds of millions of dollars of refund liability.” At $711 million per year, taxes are the authority’s second-largest expense, making up roughly 19 percent of customers’ bills, officials said.

Blakeman also said his administration is actively taking steps to fix the reassessment system introduced by Curran, specifically ensuring that million-dollar mansions are not getting away with not paying property taxes, as his office previously alleged.

According to county data, 65 percent of Nassau County homeowners received increases in their school taxes compared with 35 percent who received reductions in December 2020.   Curran called for the reassessment of more than 385,000 homes in 2018 after the county’s assessment roll had been frozen since 2008. 

During that period, thousands of residents filed grievances on the value of their homes, winning reduced assessments and shifting the tax burden to others who did not challenge their assessments.

County Comptroller Elaine Phillips announced in February that her office had launched an audit of the county’s Department of Assessment which will cover the department’s application of the phase-in, which went into effect in the 2020-21 school tax year, and the assessment rolls for the years 2021 to 2024. Phillips said the audit “will help restore taxpayers’ confidence” in the county’s process to properly value residential properties.

“We have accomplished a lot in the last 100 days, but the best is yet to come,” Blakeman concluded.

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