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Message to the Community Regarding Tax Rates

The 2013-14 school budget that was overwhelmingly supported by the residents in the Plainview-Old Bethpage community carried with it a proposed tax levy increase of 2.89 percent. You have just received your tax bill and are probably wondering why the increase you voted on is different from the one in your tax bill. Simply put, tax rates are established by the practices of the Nassau County Assessor and that office is solely responsible for the difference between the tax levy increase proposed by the district and your tax rate.

In Nassau County, there are four classes of property, each with its own tax rate: Class 1 is for single-family homes; Class 2 is for apartments and condominiums; Class 3 is for utility company properties; and Class 4 is for commercial properties such as factories, offices and stores. Each year, the county determines how much of the overall tax burden will be paid by property owners in each of the four classes. This is called the “adjusted base proportion,” because it represents the proportion of the total tax levy paid by property owners in each of the four classes. The distribution of property taxes among the four classes is entirely under the authority of the county.

Plainview-Old Bethpage CSD proposed a budget increase for 2013-14 of 2.98 percent with a tax levy increase of 2.89 percent. Unfortunately for the homeowners of Plainview-Old Bethpage, the county assessor decided to grant assessment reduction claims to 87 percent of the claimants county-wide and, in addition, decided that our homeowners should carry a larger portion of the tax burden. The combined impact on the homeowner of the 3.76 percent reduction in assessed value and 1.02 percent increase in the portion of taxes to be paid means the tax rate increase for homeowners in POB (8.00 percent) is almost triple the tax levy increase you approved in May (2.89 percent). For homeowners who did not file a claim that their property’s assessed value should be lower, the increase in their tax bill will be three times as high as they might have expected based on the budget presented in May — and not a penny of the difference is attributable to the school district.

Even if the district budget had a zero percent increase, the average homeowner in Plainview-Old Bethpage would have seen a 5 percent tax increase. Nassau County officials are shifting an ever growing tax burden onto homeowners, while claiming they are not raising taxes. It’s time for our county officials to stop blaming our schools and take responsibility for fixing the broken tax assessment system.

- Lorna R. Lewis

Superintendent Of Schools, Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District