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Old 10-06-2012, 07:13 PM
 
5,160 posts, read 6,613,227 times
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Originally Posted by nassres View Post
"I read the article and it is, or appears to be, paranoid speculation." Gordon_Byrne

Paranoid speculation hey?

School tax rates skyrocket in Nassau
October 5, 2012 by CELESTE HADRICK AND RANDI F. MARSHALL / celeste.hadrick@newsday.com,randi.ma...@newsday .com
Thousands of Nassau homeowners may be shocked when they open their school tax bills this month.
Falling house values and successful assessment protests have helped push up school tax rates to more than double the increases projected when voters approved school budgets this spring. In some districts such as Roosevelt and Uniondale, rates have jumped 10 times higher than projected.
Records show the average school tax rate in Nassau increased 11.7 percent compared with the average 2.6 percent increase projected across Long Island when school budgets were approved this spring in accord with a new state tax cap. Tax rate increases range from 6.6 percent in a Valley Stream school district to 29 percent in the Roosevelt school district.
That means taxpayers whose home assessments stayed the same or increased this year probably will pay higher taxes than they expected. Even those whose assessments dropped may see their school tax bill increase. If assessed values drop, tax rates must increase to bring in the same amount of money. Each home within a school district pays a varying share of school taxes based on its assessment. If one home's assessment drops below its neighbor's, the neighbor's taxes go up.
In the Hempstead school district, for instance, school taxes on the average single-family home were projected to climb by 1.98 percent, boosting the average school tax bill from $4,663 to $4,755. The tax rate, however, increased 22.54 percent, which could hike taxes by at least $1,051 for the more than 120 homeowners whose assessments remained the same or increased this year.
The Massapequa school budget projected that taxes would rise 2.2 percent, or $141 on the average school tax bill of $6,408. However, the tax rate increased 9.29 percent, which could boost taxes about $595 this year for those who did not get an assessment reduction -- about half the households in the district, records show.
"It's sticker shock," said Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin. He said his office has received "hundreds of phone calls" from upset residents. "They've seen their assessment go down and their taxes go up. Some of them recognize their tax rates have changed significantly. People are saying, 'What happened to the tax cap?' It's very confusing for them."

Taxpayers vent
Leslie Spitzkoff, 63, of North Hills, said she and her husband were "blindsided" when they opened their school tax bill and found a $1,200 increase even though her assessment remained unchanged.
The Herricks school district budgeted a 2.88 percent increase in taxes, but its tax rate is up more than 11 percent.
"How is this possible?" Spitzkoff said. "I want to know how this could happen without any notification. You vote for one thing and a totally different thing happens . . . I strongly feel the assessed tax be replaced with one closer to the 2.88 percent that was approved by voters."
Taxpayers will not find a direct correlation between assessment reductions and tax rate increases because the county assessor follows a complicated state formula to allocate the tax burden among commercial, residential, condominiums and utility properties within each school district. The shift is based on value changes, legal limits and levels of assessment. In addition, individual exemptions -- such as those that reduce assessments for veterans or low-income senior citizens -- can skew the tax burden.
The Nassau assessment department revised assessments in January 2011 when it first issued the values that were used to calculate this month's school taxes. It said then that most assessments had been reduced or remained the same to reflect "a declining market." Since then, more than 100,000 homeowners challenged their assessments.
Nassau's acting assessor Jim Davis said in a statement that other factors besides lower house values can lead to the tax rate increase, such as "the amount of state aid designated to each school district, and mandated and discretionary costs required of the school district."
Lorraine Deller, executive director of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association, emphasized that the amount of money districts planned to raise from property taxes has not increased despite the higher tax rates. "The school tax levy is the same as what was approved by the voters in May," Deller said.
She said school boards forward to the county in August the amount they need to raise from property taxes. The county then calculates the needed tax rate, reflecting market values, continuing tax challenges and the type of properties in each area. "All of this varies from district to district," she said.

Cap not on individual taxes
Deller said the school boards had tried "to be very very straightforward in May" to assure residents that their proposed tax levies stayed within the state cap. The difficulty, she said, was that people assumed it was a cap on their individual taxes, not on the district's tax levy.
The state cap limits the increase in total property taxes raised by school districts to two percent plus the cost of some expenses, such as new construction and pensions.
"For us, it's frustrating," said Alan Adcock, deputy superintendent of the Massapequa School district. "We told our community at the time of the budget that the increase was within the cap at 2.2 percent . . . Now folks see the rate increase by 9.29 percent. It's misleading."
He said the school board "authorized a tax increase at the tax-cap level, 2.2 percent. That, in fact, is what we will collect."
Hempstead and North Hempstead towns started mailing school tax bills on Monday. Oyster Bay was expected to mail most bills next week.
Joel Katz, 77, a retired certified public accountant from Port Washington, wrote to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo complaining that his school taxes had increased by 11.2 percent, far above the 2.13 percent hike projected by the school district.
He said his house assessment dropped 3 percent but his taxes went up $703.
Katz said he checked his neighborhood and found "the assessed valuation of everybody's property went down, but not everybody's went down the same . . . Some homes went down as much as 17 percent. Usually the much-more expensive homes got the biggest reductions percentagewise. When the assessed valuations of those homes were reduced, more of the burden shifted to me with the 3 percent reduction. I have to carry a higher burden."
"My wife and I are both retired people. Our income does not go up, it goes down. It becomes a question of how much longer can we live in this house on the North Shore of Long Island and bear 10, 11, 12 percent increases in property taxes."

Total assessed value down
A Newsday review of values from the county assessor's office used to compute school tax bills shows that the total taxable assessed value in all of Nassau's 56 school districts dropped an overall 7.3 percent.
Communities on the high and low end of the economic scale saw the biggest changes: Brookville, a village of mostly upscale houses which crosses through several school districts on Nassau's North Shore, had the largest percentage drop in its taxable assessed value, decreasing 19.8 percent from last year. The second-largest slide was in Roosevelt, a community of modest homes where the taxable value went down by 17.7 percent.
Roosevelt school officials had projected an increase in its tax levy of less than 1 percent. But with the drop in taxable values on 99 percent of the district's single-family homes, the tax rate jumped 29 percent to bring in the same amount of property taxes anticipated in the budget.
Garden City homeowner Bob Orosz, a member of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's residential assessment reform team, hired a tax protest firm to get a 12 percent reduction in his assessment this year. But his taxes are still going up because the Garden City school tax rate is increasing 14.3 percent, instead of the 3.54 percent projected.
"My assessment hasn't gone down low enough to offset the tax increase," Orosz said. "Taxpayers think when their assessment goes down so do their taxes. That's not the case."
A comparison of this year's final assessment roll to last year's shows that values went down on nearly 70 percent of the county's 386,000 residential properties. The remaining 30 percent -- about 117,900 residential parcels -- increased or stayed the same.
Records show about 99 percent of the properties in Uniondale and Roosevelt were reduced; just under 98 percent of the homes in Freeport and Westbury dropped in value.
In comparison, assessments were reduced on about 41 percent of the single-family homes in Long Beach, where the tax rate has increased by 11.1 percent instead of the projected 3.7 percent.
In the Valley Stream School District 30, just 29 percent of the homes received assessment reductions. School taxes were projected to increase 1.69 percent but the rate is up 6.6 percent.

Nassau settles challenges
Mangano, who made fixing the assessment system a major focus of his administration, announced in August that for the first time in recent memory the county had reviewed and settled all of this year's 116,410 residential challenges. Mangano last week referred all questions to Assessor Davis.
While those settlements should reduce the amount of tax refunds the county owes -- averaging $20 million a year for residential refunds -- they also lower assessed value throughout the county.
Records show 84.7 percent of homeowners who filed challenges -- about 94,000 throughout Nassau -- won reductions. More than half of the drop in the county's total residential assessed value came from successful homeowner tax challenges.
"We've gotten to the point where the assessments make no sense. The reductions make no sense. The effect on your taxes makes no sense. And the only thing that makes sense is to challenge your assessment," said Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick).
What does individual school district budgets have to do with the County govt? The county or towns have nothing to do with setting the school district budgets. Blame the school
districts and blame Cuomo for misleading people into believing that the 2% cap referred to individual homeowner's school taxes instead of explaining it was a 2% cap on the total school budget.

Doesn't matter whether tax rates stayed low with higher assessments or lower assessments with higher rates, you still have to pay the school budget.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:16 PM
 
377 posts, read 519,438 times
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True...we have definitely been misled as most people expected no more than a 2% hike in individual property tax burden. But part of the issue is the current assessment system, as there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how it works or how the school budget burden is distributed. You don't challenge your taxes, but a lot of people in your neighborhood do, so you get to pay more to make up for it, even though everyone is in the same boat and everyone's houses are not worth what they previously were. Then the tax rate is raised, so that everyone pays more, whether they grieved or not.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:14 PM
 
1,083 posts, read 2,290,324 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdlugozi View Post
True...we have definitely been misled as most people expected no more than a 2% hike in individual property tax burden. But part of the issue is the current assessment system, as there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how it works or how the school budget burden is distributed. You don't challenge your taxes, but a lot of people in your neighborhood do, so you get to pay more to make up for it, even though everyone is in the same boat and everyone's houses are not worth what they previously were. Then the tax rate is raised, so that everyone pays more, whether they grieved or not.
Yes, the tax cap is not really a 'tax' cap. It's a Cuomo PR move. And it's worked well for him, as per his high approval ratings. But the cap is a load of garbage with all sorts of exceptions and back doors. It has so many holes, it's made out of swiss cheese.

We can talk mechanics all day long. Whether it's high assessments and lower rates or lower assessments and higher tax rates, it begs the question. Why aren't expenses being cut? Why aren't budgets shrinking? In an economy that is DOA, a region where almost a quarter of all small businesses plan on leaving LI within the next 5 years, none of our leaders are stepping up and doing the unpopular task of cutting.

I think we're watching the middle class getting wiped off of LI. At least those of us without public pensions.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:34 AM
 
377 posts, read 519,438 times
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Very true. I have watched so many of my friends move away. Honestly, the one thing keeping us on LI is our aging parents. We thought about moving away and then my in-laws, who live locally, started having major health problems. We just didn't feel right about moving. But there may come a point when we have no choice.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:56 AM
 
5 posts, read 6,285 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NSHL10 View Post
What does individual school district budgets have to do with the County govt? The county or towns have nothing to do with setting the school district budgets. Blame the school
districts and blame Cuomo for misleading people into believing that the 2% cap referred to individual homeowner's school taxes instead of explaining it was a 2% cap on the total school budget.

Doesn't matter whether tax rates stayed low with higher assessments or lower assessments with higher rates, you still have to pay the school budget.
It has everything to do with County government. The overall school budget can only increase by 2% according to the cap. Mangano instituted a new program for the way properties would be assessed in Nassau county. Maragos warned the new tax assessment system would shift the tax burden to the middle class homes. Mangano dismissed Maragos' study but as we see now that is exactly what is happening. So the schools set their budget within the 2% cap but when the new assessments system readjusts for those who grieve their taxes shifting their tax burden onto you, if you didn't grieve your taxes, because either way the school budget must be met. The Nassau county tax assessment system is why Nassau county is in such bad financial shape and it is the cause for these large school tax increases. I give Mangano credit for ending the County guarantee, which was the part of the assessment system that was really driving this county into the ground, but more needs to be done to prevent these large increases from hurting the middle class.

Nassau comptroller cites tax burden shift
October 4, 2011 by CELESTE HADRICK / celeste.hadrick@newsday.com

As Nassau's school tax bills began going out Monday, county Comptroller George Maragos reported that new assessment practices may have shifted the tax burden to middle-class homeowners and those who did not challenge their assessments.

While the administration of County Executive Edward Mangano disagreed with some of Maragos' findings in a review of the assessment office, officials acknowledged that there would be some shift in county taxes onto middle-valued homes, between $333,000 and $440,000. But the administration noted that county levies make up the smallest portion of the total property tax bill -- less than 20 percent.

"No generalization" can be made about shifts in school taxes, which constitute the largest portion of the total tax bill, the county said.


Nassau formerly used comparable sales to set assessments. The new system, inaugurated for the tentative assessment roll issued in January, takes the lowest of an array of values, including the prior year's assessment, a recent sale of the property or an assessment reduction as the result of a tax protest.

But the audit said the method has not been tested for accuracy, and that it "may impact homeowners by shifting the [residential] assessed valuation from both top- and bottom-tier properties to middle-tier properties." The audit defined lower-tier as homes valued below $333,000, and top-tier as those with a market value greater than $440,000.

Maragos did not provide an estimate of what effect this change will have on tax bills. However, if assessments are reduced unequally, those who receive smaller decreases will pay more as a percentage than those who get steeper reductions.

The final audit mirrors findings of a draft obtained by Newsday in February. In the draft, Maragos estimated owners of midrange homes would see property tax bills increase an average of $227. Owners of high-end houses would see an average tax decrease of $173 and owners of the least expensive houses would see an average drop of $55.

Asked Monday about estimated tax increases, a spokesman said Maragos does not comment on draft reports and the office "does not have that information" at this time.

Maragos also found in his review that Nassau's new method, by taking the lowest in an array of values, could mean some homes are underassessed, and others that are similar receiving different assessments. The audit suggested the new method may prompt more homeowners to challenge their taxes, rather than reduce the 116,493 residential protests filed this year. The county, for more than a decade, has paid a yearly average of $100 million in refunds because of erroneous assessments, a major factor in Nassau's fiscal crisis.

Maragos joined Mangano at a news conference Monday, where the county executive touted a series of assessment reforms that he said made the system fairer and more efficient.

Mangano said he has established a process of reviewing and resolving residential assessments before tax bills go out, making refunds unnecessary. He also announced a residential "Taxpayers' Bill of Rights" to ensure that homeowners receive a fair assessment.

"These steps are transforming the broken property tax assessment system that left Nassau County in a fiscal mess," Mangano said.

Maragos said his office has worked with the administration to reform assessment. "A lot of improvements have been made, but the system is not yet perfect," Maragos said.



Time for Nassau to give up assessment biz
October 3, 2011 by JOYE BROWN / joye.brown@newsday.com

Nassau County ought to get out of the property assessment business. It's one of the surest ways to help its finances and keep county expenses in check.

The county ought to consider giving the job of assessing back to Nassau's three towns -- along with the tax money commercial and residential property owners pay into a system that residents lost faith in years ago.

Most of New York State operates that way. And town governments, which are closer to residents than the county, are apt to do a better job at accurately comparing the value of one local property to another.

How much of a burden does the assessment system place on the county? Consider this:

In 2009, the largest expenditure categories in Suffolk County were public safety, social services and employee benefits, according to the Long Island Association's recently released 2011 Annual Business Factbook.

During the same period, Nassau's biggest expenditure categories were public safety and debt service. And debt service accounted for almost 42 percent of all county spending, according to the report.

That's an astonishing percentage -- and much of it can be attributed to the cost, plus interest, of settling successful property tax challenges in Nassau.

During a news conference Monday, county Executive Edward Mangano touted a settlement program for residential properties that he said saved the county millions of dollars.

Mangano said that the settlement program, along with other changes he's made in assessment since taking office, have made the system better.

But the audit released Monday by county Comptroller George Maragos detailed still other changes that likely have made it worse.

The Maragos audit calls into question a Mangano administration strategy of artificially lowering property values as a way of reducing Nassau's liability for successful property assessment challenges.

The idea of limiting the county's tax-refund liability makes sense. Last year, for example, Mangano pushed through a reform to make school districts, towns and villages pay their share of property tax refunds for the first time since the 1940s.

But a strategy of reducing assessment values as a way to save money by making it almost impossible to win appeals likely will have the consequence of damaging the integrity of the assessment rolls.

Which would further erode the public's already waning trust in the system.

According to the Maragos audit, artificially low assessments would shift the tax burden.

How? Property owners who appeal likely would be able to win lower assessments as part of the county's settlement program. Property owners who didn't appeal would be left to pick up the difference in reduced assessments.

This is -- despite the county's response to Maragos' findings -- not fair. For one, it effectively shifts the responsibility for ensuring equitable assessments from the county to individual property owners.

The bottom line: Those who file for appeals and succeed win. Those who hang back and do nothing lose.

Which is why if Nassau wants to save money, it needs to go even further on assessments. Give it back to the towns.

They probably don't want it. But it's a pretty safe bet that, in time, frustrated property owners will.
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:57 AM
 
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Ummmm they are REPUBLICAN- this should not be a surprise to anyone.
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