Nassau Legislature passes bill to cut nearly $100 million in county fees

Nassau Legislature passes bill to cut nearly $100 million in county fees
The Nassau County Legislature passed a bill that aims to cut nearly $100 million in county fees. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Nassau County Legislature passed a bill on Friday that Republicans say would cut nearly $100 million in county fees, despite all eight Democratic lawmakers abstaining.

The GOP-backed bill was passed 11-0 after being tabled on Monday, according to Newsday. It is uncertain whether Democratic County Executive Laura Curran will sign or veto the measure, which would eliminate the $350 tax map verification fee and the $55 public safety fee as well as reduce the $300 recording fee to $50.

In a statement provided to Newsday, Curran said she and her fellow Democrats in the Legislature would set up a “workgroup” to examine the county’s existing fees “and their impact on the long-term financial stability of Nassau.”

“I invite the [Republican] Majority to participate in this review as well, with an eye towards having recommendations by January 15th,” she said, according to Newsday.

But Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) slammed Curran’s idea to study the matter while arguing that his party’s bill would “provide much needed relief for Nassau residents.”

“While the county executive dithers with her working group, residents who file deeds or refinance mortgages will continue to pay thousands of dollars in fees,” Nicolello said. “I urge her to sign these bills immediately and bring lasting relief for residents.”

The tax map verification fee that Republicans want to eliminate is charged by the county assessor to verify land details in deeds, mortgages or other real estate documents, while the recording fee is charged for recording and documenting those deeds, mortgages, liens, statutory notices and other filings needed to be re-indexed, officials said. The public safety fee is a result of traffic and camera violations issued since Jan. 2, 2017.

Republican officials said the county is projected to take in roughly $300 million more than projected in the 2021 budget. If Curran decides to veto the measure, 13 legislators would be required to override that veto in the form of a supermajority.

“After suffering through a reassessment that resulted in tax increases for 65% of residents, Nassau property owners are in desperate need of relief,” Legislator Bill Gaylor (R-Lynbrook) said. “This legislation will help our seniors, our veterans, working families and those on fixed incomes struggling to be able to afford to live in Nassau County. I urge the County Executive to sign these bills immediately, to provide immediate relief.”   

Curran, a Democrat seeking re-election this year, said her $3.5 billion proposed budget for 2022 aims to cut property taxes by $70 million next year. She credited the county’s fiscal responsibility over the last few years, noting that surpluses of $145 million and $128 million in the 2019 and 2020 budgets, respectively, will allow the county to cut taxes in 2022.

County officials said the $128 million in surplus funds from the 2020 budget will be used to “grow depleted reserves” for whenever the county experiences the “next downturn.” Officials also said the budget remains balanced without the expectation of further funds from the American Rescue Plan, despite Curran’s seeking them.

The Legislature has not yet voted on Curran’s proposed budget.

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