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Letter: Assessment System Winners and Losers

Something is very wrong with Nassau County’s assessment system when 87 percent of appeals are successful. You don’t have to look hard to see evidence of a broken system. The county website shows that several nearly identical homes on one block in Hicksville had assessed values that ranged from $322,000 to $436,000. These were homes built the same year by the same builder and had very little difference in modifications yet their 2013 total property taxes, based on assessed value, vary by almost $2500!

You can easily find other examples of this failed system by looking at page 9 of last week’s Illustrated (October  9-15) where  two recently sold homes in Hicksville had nearly identical taxes of $8500, but one sold  for $404,000 while the other for $650,000! A little research on the county website shows the $650,000 home had its assessment value reduced four times since 2010, from $505,200 to the current $366,800. Based on its recent sale price of $650,000, it is clear that this property should not have seen a reduced assessment.

Who are the winners and losers in such a broken system? As stated in the October 9-15 Hicksville Illustrated, when one tax payer wins a reduction another property owner must make up the difference. It’s bad enough that one taxpayer’s win is another’s loss but upwards of half these reductions go to the firms that solicit this business. Perhaps they are the only true winners because eventually every home owner will come to the realization that they must file an annual appeal to “win” their fair share! Unfortunately many millions will have already been diverted way from towns and school districts to pay the fees of the firms who profit from this broken county assessment system?

At a recent candidate’s night one candidate for the county legislature stated that everyone has the right to file an appeal; it was their fault if they didn’t! But I ask you is that any way to run a government? The county needs a common sense approach to this assessment mess. People with similar homes should have similar real estate assessments. Is that too much to ask?

Phil Heckler