The assessment system presents a difficult challenge for everyone and due to the County Guarantee, which is State mandated, we need our State representatives to make that change in order to help the residents of Nassau County. Even without that change we have still made progress. Last year, we passed a law to create a disputed assessment fund in which the county escrow’s disputed tax payments prior to paying a tax refund of commercial properties. Because of this we will be able to dramatically reduce the County’s massive annual financial liabilities for tax certiorari and allow our resources to be used to reduce backlogged claims and pay down tax debt. What might be the most significant challenge is the 423,000 properties, which is hard to individually value, and it is important to educate our residents about the procedures to follow in order to challenge their assessment. I have and will continue to host tax grievance workshops so my residents know how to challenge their assessment.
Under no circumstances will I have any tolerance for an elected official who abuses their position for personal gain. Because of the recent indictments and convictions of elected officials on both sides of the aisle my Republican colleagues and I have passed laws requiring lobbyists, vendors and consultants to provide detailed business histories when they do business with the county. We have also hired a procurement compliance director and commissioner of investigations to make sure our contract processes and procedures receive strict compliance. Also, we recently passed legislation to ban felons from running for office and amended our Code of Ethics to, among other things, bring penalties against anyone within or outside of government, who tries to induce any county officer or employee from violating their ethical obligations.
Since being elected I have worked very hard to do my part to keep county property taxes at bay. Since 2010, every financial indicator in Nassau County has improved, and our bond rating was recently increased to A+ status, our debt has been reduced and the budgetary structural gap has been reduced by 80% in that time. As Legislator, I will continue to monitor our budget so that we never return to the outrageous property tax increases of the prior administration. I am in support of a transit oriented development to provide housing opportunities for young people as well as the creation of quality senior housing opportunities throughout Nassau County.
New York State Law places the responsibility of where legislative district lines will be drawn with the Nassau County Legislature. The process by which redistricting takes place in Nassau County engages a broad spectrum of political expertise and public input. The standards that are followed are provided by both state and federal courts and protects the constitutional goal of “one person, one vote.” As Legislator, I am always willing to openly discuss potential improvements to a process so that we can find what is in the best interest of the people.
To reform property tax system, we must do three things: move to an annual assessment, have our assessment department perform the assessment, and end the culture of constant grieving. To perform annual assessments and ensure their accuracy we must move that obligation back to the county assessor’s office. Currently, the county relies on an external firm to handle re-assessment. Using an external firm is incredibly expensive, and in return, the county cannot ensure a quality process. The current grieving process is a-typical and nonsensical. To provide proper assessment, grieving should only be done by home-owners who are actually assessed incorrectly. We are currently experiencing a monumental shift of property taxes from homeowners who do not grieve to those who do. It is unjust and is making everybody’s property taxes higher. By ending an overwhelming number of grievances, we can ensure accurate assessment rolls and save the county money.
We cannot reform our political system by continuing to elect the same officials expecting them to take a stand for ethics and decency. First, we need an independent inspector general to ensure the sanctity of contracting in Nassau. This new office would be entirely independent of the Executive and Legislator and be able to investigate contracts taking up with the county to ensure their sanctity. Next, we need to continue with reforms of the County Ethics Board. When the most likely source of corruption is to arise from the office of County Executive, their role in the selection of ethics board members must be minimal or nonexistent. Ethics reforms is incredibly important to me and will be one of my top priorities once elected to the Legislature.
We have a huge affordability crisis in Nassau County. Our current elected officials have done very little to solve this problem. As a young person myself, I struggle with the financial ramifications of wanting to start my own family here on Long Island. The key issue holding back affordable housing from being developed is our tax assessment system. New developments are incredibly overtaxed, leading to many individuals not being able to afford to rent or buy a new property because of the property taxes. My plan to fix the assessment system will address this by putting new developments on a more level playing field with accurate tax rolls.
I am 100% in favor of an independent redistricting commission for Nassau County. Gerrymandering is a plague on our Democracy and any elected official or candidate who is against independent redistricting is undemocratic and should have no role in public service. This is an issue I plan to spearhead once elected to the legislature. I believe that after the endless corruption and un-competitive elections in Nassau the people are ready for a change to an independent redistricting commission. The commission I hope to compose will be made up of multiple members, who are currently not or never were elected officials nor party officials. These individuals should come from various backgrounds: business, law, academia. Lastly, there should be guidelines on the districts, such as to the best of the commission’s ability, create districts where hamlets, incorporated villages, and school districts are keeping together.