For Darlene Durand, a dedicated healthcare worker from Valley Stream, she followed through on a dream to invest in her home and community. Her home renovation was completed, and Durand has been enjoying the new start in her beloved home and community. Unfortunately, Durand’s pride has been crushed by the Nassau County Assessor and the County Executive’s Reassessment Project. Under the County Executive’s Reassessment, the Assessor slammed Durand with a startling tax hike, nearly tripling her property taxes from $9,783.96 in 2019-20 to a whopping $26,470.30 in 2020-21 – an increase of over 170 percent.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll, County Legislator Steve Rhoads and Bill Gaylor joined with Ms. Durand today in front of her Valley Stream home to tell her story, and to call for action to deliver relief to homeowners who were seemingly left behind and unfairly slammed by the County Executive’s reassessment.
“For homeowners like Darlene, her version of the American Dream is being unfairly quashed by the Nassau County Assessor as a result of the County Executive’s reassessment,” Clavin said. “People who invest in their homes, many of whom are committing to a long future in their beloved communities, should not be penalized due to a flawed reassessment process that unfairly slams certain property owners with sky rocketing taxes.”
Durand is one of many homeowners who fall into a reassessment category that unfairly places the tax burden on them, specifically to those who made renovations to their houses or purchased newly constructed homes. More than 1,100 of these homeowners, reported in a wide-ranging Newsday report on February 28th, experienced reassessment-related tax hikes that often doubled their total property tax bills.
According to the published report, the affected homeowners are excluded from a five-year phase-in, the county’s Taxpayer Protection Plan (TPP) that was enacted for taxpayers to experience reassessment increases gradually over a long-term period. Instead, the report notes that homeowners with new homes or significant new construction are shouldering a significant tax burden in comparison to houses that are considered to those that fall under the TPP.
“My office receives hundreds of calls daily from homeowners who express shock and despair at the unexpected tax increases caused by the County Executive’s reassessment,” Driscoll said. “The tax burden should not be shifted to a certain group of homeowners, otherwise many of them, like Darlene, fear that they will be forced to pick up all of the hard work they put into their homes and move away from the area. Taxpayers deserve better and we will continue to fight for them.”
Also joining the officials was Michael Borrelli of Wantagh, a homeowner who also recently experienced a significant tax increase, from $10,000 last year to about $31,000 this year, after purchasing a new home in 2019.
“What is happening to taxpayers is not a surprise,” Legislator Steve Rhoads said. “I wrote State lawmakers a year ago providing the same warning the County Executive was given – that the failure to include new construction in the Curran phase in would have massive tax consequences to these families. Laura Curran and her friends in Albany didn’t listen, or worse, didn’t care. Now these homeowners are facing 100, 200 or even 300% tax increases. Albany needs to do what it should have done last year and immediately fix another of Laura Curran’s bad decisions.”
"Darlene is certainly not the only homeowner experiencing a serious repercussion stemming from the County Executive's signature reassessment project," said Legislator Bill Gaylor. “These taxpayers are shouldering a massively unfair burden due recent construction being done on their home. Worse yet, they were completely blindsided by this dramatic increase in taxes.”
In addition to owners of new homes or remodeled houses, a group of homeowners impacted by the Reassessment crunch include senior citizens who purchased homes in new residential complexes. This past fall, Driscoll and Rhoads had visited an entire community of homeowners in Seaford who experienced drastic tax hikes, some who saw tax bills that tripled.
This most recent development was another startling chapter in the ongoing county reassessment saga, which includes a December published report that over 65 percent of Nassau homeowners experienced tax increases under the County Executive’s reassessment, which includes hundreds of thousands of homeowners this year.
Driscoll explained that with the continued disparities and missteps in regards to the county reassessment and the Assessor should also prompt homeowners to remember to challenge their property tax assessment each year, while also filing for exemptions, when applicable. While the current grievance period, which runs through April 30, 2021, all successful challenges would apply to the 2022-2023 tax cycle. In addition, Driscoll reminds homeowners who are in the process of making improvements, or have completed renovations, should apply for the county home improvement exemption.
“The county, not the town, sets a homeowner’s property assessment,” Driscoll said. “But we as town officials will continue to educate taxpayers on their rights, and how they can grieve their taxes, while keeping them informed about their tax bills. The County Executive’s reassessment obviously has holes that need to be patched up, and we will continue to advocate for all taxpayers, especially those who have been unfairly impacted.”
“Unfortunately, since the start of the County Executive’s reassessment, we continue to stand up here to alert the public of yet another group of homeowners unfairly shouldering a significant tax burden,” Clavin said. “Something must be done to provide assistance to homeowners like Darlene as soon as possible, or this could certainly discourage current and prospective homeowners from investing in our communities.”