Blakeman appoints Matthew Cronin as acting county assessor

Blakeman appoints Matthew Cronin as acting county assessor
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman appointed Matthew Cronin as acting assessor last week. (Photo courtesy of the county executive's office)

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman appointed Matthew Cronin, an assistant assessor with previous experience in the Department of Assessment, as acting assessor Thursday.

Cronin, 36, was appointed to a six-month term.  He served as the county’s commercial and industrial assessor last year before being promoted to assistant assessor.

“I want to thank County Executive Blakeman for giving me the opportunity to serve as acting assessor,” Cronin said. “I look forward to making the office work better for the residents we serve and rectifying the errors that were made in the past to restore trust in the department and the county’s assessments.”

Blakeman, a Republican, did not renew the contract for Acting Assessor Robin Laveman, who was appointed to fill the shoes of her predecessor, David Moog, by former County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat. The county executive lauded Cronin’s experience throughout the department and hopes it will positively translate into the county’s reassessment process.

“Matt is highly qualified and brings extensive experience to the Department of Assessment,” Blakeman said in a statement. “He will be tasked with making the reassessment process more fair, accurate and transparent for Nassau County taxpayers. Homeowners have endured years of errors that raised taxes and eroded public trust in the Department of Assessment. New leadership in the Assessor’s Office will be more responsive and better serve the public.”

Curran called for the reassessment of approximately 400,000 homes in 2018, for the 2020-21 tax year, after the county’s assessment roll had been frozen since 2011. During that period, thousands of residents filed grievances on the value of their homes, winning reduced assessments and shifting the tax burden onto others who did not challenge their assessments.

Democratic Legislator Debra Mulé said some on the legislative board question the effectiveness of Cronin, who lives in Amityville, outside of Nassau County. Mulé said Cronin’s brother, Richard, serves as the chairperson for the county’s Tax Certiorari Committee.

“Although the Blakeman administration finally heeded our call, their mishandling of this matter should concern every Nassau taxpayer – especially those who exercised their right to challenge the assessed value of their property,” Mulé said. “We also question the wisdom of selecting a person who does not reside in Nassau County – which is especially ironic since our Republican colleagues loudly objected to a prior assessor residing outside of Nassau County – and a person with such close ties to an advocacy organization whose members profit from successful grievances.”

Republican officials previously said Laveman’s lack of certification from the International Institute of Assessing Officers was concerning.  

According to the county’s charter, an assessor has 36 months within beginning a term as county assessor to become certified. Other requirements for the county assessor include a degree from an accredited four-year college and one year of “satisfactory full-time paid experience in an occupation involving the valuation of real property.”

The majority also called for the county assessor to be elected rather appointed by the county executive. Republican officials said the people should decide who should lead the charge in the ongoing reassessment, which has resulted in property tax increases for 65 percent of county homeowners.

Blakeman thanked Laveman for her work as acting assessor and said his goal is to make county’s assessments “more accurate and fairer.” Laveman will have a new role working in the county attorney’s office, officials said.

“For far too long errors, mismanagement and secrecy have plagued the Department of Assessment,” Blakeman said. “My administration is committed to restoring trust in the process and making Nassau’s assessments more accurate and fairer. I have full confidence that Matt will help to further that vision. I want to thank Robin Laveman for her service and wish her well in her new position.”

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