Nassau Comptroller Elaine Philips said there is still more work to be done when it comes to fixing the county’s long-troubled assessment system.
“If the County Executive Blakeman were to ask me if we should do a reassessment right now, I would say no,” Philips said during the March meeting for the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. “We have to learn from our mistakes and we are not ready yet.”
Philips was speaking at Umberto’s during the March 16 meeting on the fiscal health of Nassau and the ongoing complexities of the county’s property tax assessments.
The comptroller, elected in 2021 as a Republican, largely detailed the findings and conclusions from the audit she released earlier this year on the property reassessment.
Philips found in her yearlong audit of the reassessment of Nassau’s 386,000 residential and 37,000 commercial properties in 2018 that the county relied on “flawed data.”
Philips said the Department of Assessment had not fixed property information and data weaknesses before the reassessment ordered by then County Executive Laura Curran in 2017. She also said the five-year phase-in of assessment changes led to additional distortions.
Tax rolls had been frozen the previous eight years under her predecessor, Ed Mangano.
Philips said since the audit was released, her office and the county’s department of assessment have been working on recommendations made in the report, which include consistently reviewing and updating data for properties, allocating sufficient time to performing quality control reviews of property valuations, maintaining a clear audit trail and maintaining accurate physical descriptions of properties.
“We are making sure that we are training assessors so we are getting better-quality looks at each property,” Philips said on the ongoing work that’s been done with the county. “When you get good data in, you can get good data out.”
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.
A Newsday report from 2019 showed some $2.7 billion in property taxes were shifted over the eight years and people who did not challenge their property taxes were assessed at a level 29.2% greater than those who did.
Curran re-implemented the freeze for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2023 tax years, citing financial instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, Blakeman froze the tax rolls for the third year in a row.