By Eden Laikin
The overwhelming majority of Nassau County homeowners would receive a FULL refund for any increase in their County property taxes under the proposed 2015 County budget, officials said. The extra $41 that homeowners layout next year would be entirelly refunded in October 2015 under the state’s Property Tax Freeze Credit program to homeowners earning under $500,000.
There is no paperwork for homeowners to fill out. It’s an automatic rebate. The tax and then reimbursement is necessary as that’s how State officials designed the program. In all, the program helps Nassau County secure more of its share back from the State for local programs and policing initiatives.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano froze County property taxes for the past 5 years and eliminated a County energy tax on all electric, oil and natural gas bills upon taking office.
The County’s participation in Governor Cuomo’s tax freeze program will keep property taxes frozen for most Nassau residents, for the 6th year in a row, County officials said. And, it will balance the 2015 budget despite a drastic, yet unexpected, decline in sales tax revenue and a higher rate of inflation.
The state’s program requires the County to stay within the New York State Property Tax Cap and submit an efficiency plan in 2016. The County is positioned to participate and recapture millions of dollars from the State, officials said.
County Executive Mangano said his proposed Budget for 2015 reflects the progress his administration has achieved in freezing real property taxes while structurally repairing Nassau County through efficiency initiatives, shared services, labor contract savings, assessment reform and cost-cutting public-private partnerships. He said his administration’s economic development initiatives have returned companies to Nassau County, created thousands of jobs, and more than 1,000 new home rental opportunities; and resulted in Nassau County having the lowest unemployment rate in the region.
“Economic conditions typically create new challenges for government and this year is no exception,” County Executive Mangano said. “From an unusual and disproportionate decline in Sales Tax receipts to police overtime costs that are now coming under control and assessment reforms that are now being implemented, this budget protects homeowners from bearing the burden of these challenges by participating in the Governor’s new Property Tax Freeze Credit program. We have made tough choices to structurally repair Nassau’s finances so that this generation and future generations no longer pay the price of mistakes made by prior administrations.”
Police overtime spiked during the time period in which the County negotiated labor concessions which require new employee contributions to healthcare and pension costs. The County refrained from hiring new police officers during this time to avoid hiring higher paid employees who were not required to contribute to their healthcare and pension plans. Once concession agreements were reached, Nassau commenced hiring new employees who are required to contribute to their healthcare and pensions. This budget ensures overtime savings will be achieved by the hiring of additional police officers to fill minimum manning positions as reflected in the budget.
Mangano believes that his administrations assessment reforms will end the decades of debt accumulated under the prior system.
Going forward as presented in 2010, the County will bond to pay off the prior decade of accumulated debt pursuant to the plan presented and approved in 2012. Upon completion of the plan, Nassau will no longer accumulate such debt nor borrow to pay it.