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Fair,88°
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Editorial
Reassessing the county executive

This time last year, the Herald evaluated Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s midterm progress. We graded him on how well he had followed through with his campaign promises and how effectively he had dealt with the major issues facing the county.

The results were middling. We gave Mangano a C in job creation, a C+ in cutting wasteful spending and an Incomplete on his promise to reform the assessment system. He did earn an A, however, for cutting taxes. He promised he wouldn’t raise taxes, and he didn’t. He also eliminated the energy tax that the Suozzi administration implemented in 2009.

A lot has happened since we offered that report card, and we thought it would be useful to reassess Mangano’s performance one year later.

Cutting taxes
He still does well here. He pledged that he would reduce homeowners’ taxes, and he did so by cutting the energy tax. He has opted to close every gap in the budget with cuts rather than tax increases. Keeping taxes stable seems to be one thing Mangano is good at.

Reforming the tax-assessment system
About a month ago, Mangano touted “historic assessment reforms.” For the first time in the county’s history, he said, it had settled all of the tax challenges residents filed before the Legislature finalized the assessment rolls. This meant that residents wouldn’t have to pay more in taxes, challenge their assessments and then be reimbursed, which, Mangano said, would save the county about $30 million a year.

According to Mangano, $1.6 billion of the county’s $3 billion debt can be attributed to the assessment system. To his credit, he has taken steps to try to correct the problem. He lengthened the assessment cycle from one year to four, and he repealed the county guarantee, making school districts and villages responsible for reimbursing their proportional share of property tax overpayments.

On paper, this makes sense: Nassau is the only county in the country that reimburses entire tax certiorari payments, even though it receives only a fraction of the tax money. There’s no reason for the county to be paying back tax money owed by schools and villages. But school districts have challenged the repeal in court, so its future is unclear.

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