Making The Case For An Elected Assessor

Richard J. Nicolello, Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature

Newsday recently reported that taxes will rise for 65 percent of Nassau’s homeowners as a result of the county executive’s reassessment. After the mistakes and errors that have plagued reassessment, the public lacks confidence in the reassessment process and thousands of frustrated residents are unable to understand how their assessed values are calculated.

Earlier this month, the administration put forward a resolution to appoint a county official who lacks assessing experience and credentials to serve as assessor. In 2019, County Executive Laura Curran vetoed our local law that would have given Nassau voters the chance to decide whether to have an elected or appointed assessor. The county executive’s sole reason for opposing the law was that an elected assessor would not have industry recognized qualifications and certifications. Now, the county executive seeks to appoint an individual without such qualifications. With this appointment, the county executive has destroyed her rationale for vetoing our legislation.

It is time to let the people decide if they want a politically appointed assessor answerable to the county executive or an elected assessor answerable to the residents. The Legislative Majority is renewing its call for a referendum on the creation of an elected county assessor.

New legislation has been submitted to place a referendum on the ballot in November 2021 to give the public the right to decide if Nassau will have an elected county assessor. The bill filed earlier this month will be considered in the Legislature in February, and, if passed submitted to the county executive for her signature.

Until 2008, Nassau County had an elected assessor. Since then, the county assessor has been an appointed political position made by the county executive with the approval of the county legislature. These appointed assessors have not been responsive to the public. Under County Executive Curran, the county assessor has routinely evaded the legislature’s and the public’s questions and concerns about reassessment and has been forced to admit to many missteps in the process.

We once again call on the county executive to let the voters decide who they want as their county assessor. Our taxpayers deserve greater transparency and a more reliable assessment system.

Nassau residents deserve a choice.

Richard J. Nicolello is the Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature.

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