Letters to the Editor: East Rockaway, Lynbrook

(Page 5 of 6)
Yes, school districts and other jurisdictions raised tax rates, and these increases, plus changing assessments — some up, some down — can, as you noted, produce large tax increases on particular properties, even those with no assessment change. Further, reductions in commercial assessments ordered by courts or negotiated under fear that court-ordered assessments will be even lower than the negotiated ones can produce significant increases in the share of taxes paid by all homeowners together.
Historically, government officials have attempted to keep homeowners’ taxes lower by increasing commercial assessments. However, since state law mandates a grievance process, commercial property owners routinely present their independent assessments and financials to the court to try to show that their property is not worth as much as its assessment. They often win, thus transferring the burden back to homeowners. Of course, homeowners can and do initiate grievances, but they probably do so in smaller percentages than commercial property owners.
This is not a broken system. It is the system in New York and the county can’t change it. This leaves the county to decide whether to settle grievances sooner or later. If later, the county incurs a huge bill for the retroactive refunds that are an inherent part of the process. Unfortunately, the County Charter, written at a time when property taxes, particularly school taxes, were far less of a burden, requires the county to pay the school districts’ share of such retroactive payments.
This provision of the charter, which exists nowhere else in New York state, makes no sense and must be changed. What’s the logic of burdening the county (10 percent of total property taxes) with the school districts’ (60 percent-plus of total property taxes) share of retroactive refunds?
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