By Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano
School-tax bills recently arrived and, once again, we all learned that school districts are spending too much and taxing too high.
As Nassau County Executive, I have worked tirelessly to cut government waste and freeze county property taxes every year. I have also been commended by the State of New York for cost-cutting measures that resulted in no tax hike for residents. To blame school-tax hikes on the county is wrong.
My opponent, Tom Suozzi, has misled residents about their school taxes and assessments. I encourage all residents to fight their taxes and grieve their home assessments if they believe they are unfair. Tom Suozzi believes that homeowners shouldn’t have this right. I understand his position, considering he hiked your county property taxes by 23% and watched school taxes skyrocket by 84%—or an average of $3,036 per household—during his tenure.
In lockstep with my opponent, Newsday calls filing assessment challenges a “grievance game.” But the right to challenge an assessment or to take advantage of a property-tax exemption is guaranteed under state law; it is not a “game.”
I find it a bit disconcerting that some politicians attempt to blame me for the school property-tax increases that result because a homeowner exercises his or her right to challenge an assessment or to file for a property-tax exemption. It seems that if it were up to them, even the victims of Hurricane Sandy should not benefit from having a lower assessment or paying lower property taxes.
I understand that there are a number of mitigating financial factors that can negatively impact a school district’s budget. What cannot be ignored is the fact that school district spending goes up every year (which accounts for over 67% of a homeowner’s average tax bill), and it is that spending that has drained the wallets of our overtaxed and frustrated homeowners.
I am proud of what I have achieved as the county executive over the course of these past four years. I have acted decisively and made some tough but necessary decisions that have corrected many of the financial problems I inherited. I will continue to work to promote fairness and equity in the assessment roll by guaranteeing the right of homeowners to challenge their property-tax assessments.
Nassau County is on its way back and I am proud to have played a part in its recovery. v