County Executive Ed Mangano at the home of Herb and Iris Marek on Sunday
County Executive Ed Mangano at the home of Herb and Iris Marek on Sunday
County Executive Ed Mangano at the home of Herb and Iris Marek on Sunday

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


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