Tax Challenge Deadline Extended After Website Outage

Nassau County, N.Y., officials extended the deadline for submitting tax challenges after the website went down Monday night. It began working again Tuesday morning.

by Lisa M. Krieger, The Mercury News / May 1, 2019
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(TNS) — Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Tuesday extended the deadline for filing online tax challenges until 11:59 p.m. Friday after a county assessment website went down for nearly 12 hours on the eve of the filing deadline.

Website outages continued Tuesday afternoon, even after Curran extended the deadline. A county spokeswoman called the situation "troubling," and said officials were monitoring the website to determine whether another extension is necessary.

Hard-copy grievances can be filed at the county Assessment Review Commission's offices in Mineola until 4:45pm Friday, or be postmarked by May 3.

Curran, a Democrat, said the website for filing challenges went down around 9:30 p.m. Monday and began working again at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

During the outage, links to the county’s “Assessment Review on The Web” page directed taxpayers to an inactive page with the headline: “The page cannot be displayed.”

“The Assessment Review Commission’s website was down temporarily overnight last night," Curran said Tuesday morning. "Now, I’ve just been informed of intermittent failures this morning. Honestly, this is incredibly frustrating.”

Curran continued, “We are working with the vendor to identify the problem. This is an old system. These problems have happened in past years. And it just shows the incredible need to update our technology. We inherited this technology and we are working hard to update it and modernize it.”

Curran said in a statement, "We apologize for any inconvenience."

The county is undergoing its first countywide property reassessment in nearly a decade. Property owners have filed 245,908 grievances so far this year, compared with 241,011 by this time last year, officials said.

The reassessment has been marked by errors and other issues. In November, for instance, the county said it would have to correct 20,000 tax disclosure notices because they included assessments that increased by more than the 6 percent allowed under state law.

On Tuesday, Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) urged the Curran administration to extend the deadline for online grievances until Tuesday due to the website problems.

“Every resident deserves the right to challenge their assessment if they think that the county has assigned the wrong value," Nicolello said. "It is now clear that technological problems at the county may cause many residents to miss the deadline. We cannot allow this latest problem with reassessment to defeat the rights of the residents.”

Curran noted in an interview she already had asked the Assessment Review Commission to extend the grievance deadline from March 1 to April 30, "which is actually unprecedented. It’s never stayed open this long, the grievance period, except for [after superstorm] Sandy.”

In response to Nicolello, Curran had said earlier Tuesday, “I don’t believe that an overnight website outage of less than 12 hours necessitates staying open for an extra week."

Also Tuesday, Nassau County Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) and Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin urged Curran to extend the Friday night deadline for online filings until May 7, arguing it was unfair to Orthodox Jewish residents who observe the Sabbath.

Clavin, in a letter to Curran, called the extension deadline, "downright disrespectful to our Orthodox Jewish community. … This is troubling and unfair."

In a statement, Kopel urged Curran "to respect and accommodate the unique needs of the Orthodox residents of Nassau County and move the deadline to grieve to May 7th."

Geed did not respond directly to Clavin's and Kopel's comments. But she called "troubling" the Assessment Review on the Web "system is not up and running consistently. We need a reliable website and we plan to monitor the situation and downtime over the next couple of days and determine whether an additional extension is needed."

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