Residents of Freeport, Garden City, Hempstead, Mineola and Rockville Centre received overcharged sewer usage taxes as high as 75 percent per household. Meanwhile, residents outside of these five villages were slightly undercharged, according to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, also one of the residents affected, originally discovered the issue. Upon Kennedy’s discovery, he brought it to the attention of the Nassau County attorney, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the comptroller.
Springing into action, Nassau County legislators Laura Schaefer and Debra Mulé, reported it to Curran. After an intensive accounting review, according to Curran, a $10 million-plus error in overcharges turned up from former County Executive Ed Mangano’s 2017 budget, which was adopted last October.
“I am proud to say Freeport uncovered and initiated the investigation of sewer overcharges in the Nassau County 2018-2019 tax bills,” Kennedy said. “Many residents have prepaid their taxes to take advantage of the permitted deductions and now find they were overcharged…equaling hundreds of dollars.”
Curran announced on Monday that the legislature would ensure corrective action and implement measures to prevent overcharges from happening again. Curran introduced a local law that would allow Nassau County to issue refunds for those who have already paid taxes in full or issue a corrected tax bill for residents that may have already paid the first half of their taxes.
“We presented this issue to the county executive just two weeks ago and here we are standing together with a solution,” said Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray. “This is government at its best. I can’t thank the county executive enough for solving this issue so quickly.”
With a slight wave of her tax bill, Legislature Debra Mulé, of Freeport, said, “I happen to have my own tax bill and when I looked at it, I, as a resident of Freeport, also had a 75-percent increase.”
Curran said the refunds would be drawn from the county’s sewer fund, which has a surplus. For residents that were undercharged, there will be an adjustment in next year’s taxes to offset the costs. Curran has also ordered the OMB to identify and modernize the outdated budget and processing that she also said led to errors.
“We knew we were inheriting a mess,” Curran said. “As we move forward, we will address each problem we find as quickly as possible. I will count on bi-partisan support from the legislature to correct the sewer charges.”