The subject of the assessment system in Nassau County is so complicated, with many different problems that originated years ago. I can’t possibly cover it all in this space, so I’d like to address one important component of the problem. That would be the property tax grievance process. The homeowners that grieve their taxes end up paying much less than the home owners that don’t grieve their taxes. This is partly due to the fact that very few grievances are denied, regardless of the legitimacy of the grievance. There are several reasons for this, including the overload of grievances that has led to basically rubber stamping of many of the tax reductions. After a reassessment of properties, step one would be to evaluate the process in which tax grievances are handled and make the necessary corrections to ensure only legitimate grievances are approved.
The current democratic legislators have been asking to create an inspector general position with oversight over county contracts. This would be a good step toward accountability in awarding contracts. Truly, I don’t understand why my opponent, Denise Ford and the republican majority want to put stipulations on this position, that would water down its effectiveness.
I currently work for the Nassau County Civil Service Commission. I attained my job by taking a test. I didn’t know anyone in the county government. However, sadly, many positions in the county government are awarded based on who you know rather than what you know. Because I know and understand the system, I have ideas of how transparency and accountability in hiring could be improved.
There are different solutions for affordable housing for different segments of the population in Nassau County.
For young adults and working families we need to build multifamily, mixed use housing that is close to transit and also provides pedestrian connections to commercial and cultural facilities. We also need to strengthen regulations, including the Long Island Workforce Housing Act, that insure true affordable housing is available.
For some seniors the above solutions would be viable, however, many seniors would do better in affordable senior communities. There are a few communities of this type currently in the planning stages. Nassau County would have to work with local municipalities, the state and developers to build more of these communities.
Gerrymandering is an incredible problem for the entire country. It is acutely felt here in Nassau County. I believe we should set up an independent redistricting commission. I don’t believe I could make it a reality on my own, however, I would be a voice for this in the legislature. Though I am a democrat, I don’t think democrats should hope to get back the majority so we can tilt election results in our direction. I am dedicated to a fair system of for all candidates and more important for the constituents they represent.
Last year, the legislature passed a law to create a disputed assessment fund whereby the county escrows disputed tax payments prior to paying a tax refund on commercial properties. This will decrease financial liabilities for commercial tax certiorari. We have also passed legislation increasing the information commercial property owners are required to provide for assessment purposes. I have held numerous assessment grievance workshops for the residents. While some changes have been made, more needs to be done. There have been suggestions to change to a three year cyclical assessment and initiating a full value assessment. Another proposal is going back to electing the Assessor. There are other proposals as well but need New York State approval.
We have taken steps to restore trust in our government. We passed laws to enhance the oversight and transparency by requiring new disclosure requirements for lobbyists, vendors and consultants and detailed business histories for those doing business with the County. We require political campaign disclosures for vendors. We hired a Procurement Compliance Director and a Commissioner of Investigations. We recently passed legislation barring felons from running for office and we amended the County Code of Ethics which made changes such as providing for a politically diverse board and mandatory ethics training for all employees amongst other changes.
The priority should be to be monitor our budget as high taxes are a deterrent to keeping seniors and attracting young adults. We need to promote proper development which do not become a burden on the neighborhoods. I have worked on converting a defunct hotel into senior housing. I support the development of apartments which will attract young people especially when they are built close to mass transportation.
The responsibility for the adoption of legislative district lines for Nassau County lies with the Nassau County Legislature. We held meetings in all the districts to hear what residents had to say. The first proposal was defeated which proves the democratic process works. I believe this process works as the legislature is an elected not an appointed body.