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Assessment Review Commission Rep at Chamber Meeting

Advice Given: Homeowner

Should File His Own Grievance

The Manhasset Chamber of Commerce meetings have a new look. Recently elected president Harvey Passes will film guest speakers for eventual airing on his television program found on Cablevision’s Channel 73. The program is titled Dr. Passes Presents and can be seen on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Fridays at 5:30 p.m. The presentations will be interactive, not a monologue but a discussion, with Passes serving as host.

For the Feb. 2 meeting Legislator Judi Bosworth arranged for Helen McQueen, Assessment Review Commission (ARC), to make a presentation then answer questions. ARC is an independent agency responsible for annually reviewing all applications for correction of assessment filed in Nassau County. The mission of ARC is to review the assessment if the evaluation is excessive. Over the past seven years, ARC has corrected assessments on over 200,000 residential properties, and over 22,500 commercial properties. These reductions have resulted in substantial savings to taxpayers.

Before introducing Ms. McQueen, Bosworth explained that immediately after being re-elected for her second term she began campaigning, saying the best means of campaigning is doing a good job. In her first two-year term it was a big challenge getting to know the different communities, she said. The recent election in Massachusetts was, she noted, an upset. Bosworth said politicians are elected to represent all the people, not just Democrats or Republicans, and the more local the election, she said, the more true that is.

Passes questioned Bosworth about how she gets a feel for the area she represents; how does she know what they want. “The Manhasset Press is a great source,” she said, “especially the letters to the editor.” Bosworth added she’s “interested when someone feels strongly enough to write a letter.” She emphasized that she wants her constituents to contact her office if they have a problem, saying she can’t help if she doesn’t know what the problem is. Her office is always open, she announced, and she returns emails and calls.

Legislator Bosworth scheduled three workshops on challenging your assessment. The first was in Great Neck, the second is tonight, Feb. 11, from 7 until 8:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Manhasset Public Library, and the third workshop will be on Feb. 24, from 7 until 8:30 p.m. at Clinton G. Martin Park, 1601 Marcus Avenue in New Hyde Park. For more information call Legislator Bosworth’s office at 571-6210.

Helen McQueen acknowledged that in those sessions her department will bring their services directly to the community, and individuals’ information can be entered directly into the computer. She added she is the only person in customer service so the outreach evenings are extremely helpful to the community.

If McQueen, supervisor in the customer service area of the Assessment Review Commission, had only one piece of advice it would be that the homeowner should file his own grievance. Avowing it is a simple process, she said, nevertheless, the homeowner receives many letters from attorneys to file it for them. The public is under the impression, McQueen said, that the attorney pleads their case. Not so, she stressed, the attorney fills out the exact same paperwork as the homeowner, and, it stands to reason the homeowner knows their property better. McQueen stated that unless the attorney has a special interest in your case he gets his information from county records. The commission receives about 100,000 to 125,000 applications per year so there is no ability to have a conference with each individual. Also, there is no charge to file a grievance.

McQueen counseled that the commission has limited jurisdiction. They can only leave the assessment as it is or lower it. They do not raise it. The appeal process, she said, is not punitive.

Passes asked her, how do you know where to go to file a grievance? McQueen said you can now file online, that Nassau County is the only county in the state where you can file an online grievance.

On the county website, www.nassau countyny.gov, under the Assessment Review Commission, you can research the value of your property using the Sales Locator. It shows sales for the last 18 months in your neighborhood. Out of 350,000 properties it will show what sold in your school district. It shows both the sales date and sales price. The homeowner can then pick and choose comparable properties and it makes the adjustments. For example a full bath is valued at $30,000 in Great Neck and $16,000 in East Meadow. The Sales Locator does not work for condominiums. The best resource for condos is the management office or a real estate agent.

Bosworth said the assessor is now appointed, which was done to professionalize the position. There has been a change in Nassau County administration, and the assessor has been retained.

If your assessment is reduced, your taxes do not necessarily go down. For example, two years ago property values were higher, but today the budget still has to be met. The tax rate is adjusted to meet the budget.

Bosworth congratulated Harvey Passes on his new position as chamber president and thanked outgoing president Nancy Morris for the wonderful job she had done as president.