Nassau County has paid $150 million worth of tax refunds to nearly 12,000 property owners, including people who have been waiting more than a decade for such reimbursement, County Executive Laura Curran announced last week.
The combination of $100 million borrowed and $50 million in government funds settles tax certiorari liabilities Curran’s administration inherited from its predecessor, Edward Mangano’s administration.
“The prior administration never had a plan to address this mounting debt accumulating from the broken assessment system – only a plan to ignore it,” Curran said in a statement. “This is money the county has owed to thousands of residents and businesses that our county’s economy depends on, including our cherished Main Street mom-and-pop shops, for far too long.”
Tax certiorari proceedings in New York allow property owners to challenge their tax assessments by claiming they are excessive, unequal, unlawful or misclassified. The state does not have a limit for how long municipalities have to pay those refunds, said John V. Terrana, chairman of the tax certiorari practice group at Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP.
“At a certain time the Legislature didn’t have enough votes to do the borrowing and it was questionable whether or not [the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority]…would allow them to borrow to pay these refunds,” he said.
The county Legislature unanimously passed a resolution to borrow $100 million in December.
“After many years these people are finally getting paid,” Terrana said.
Of the $150 million, $123 million is for about 5,807 commercial property owners while $27 million is for homeowners, according to Curran’s office.
The $100 million borrowed comes from the capital markets. The other $50 is a combination of $30 million from the county’s general fund and $20 million from the Disputed Assessment Fund.
Failure to pay refunds was not the only tax-related duty that lapsed under the Mangano administration. Mangano, who was recently convicted of corruption in a federal trial, froze the tax assessment roll in 2011.
Since assuming office in 2018, Curran has unfrozen the assessment role and introduced a reassessment.