Silverman calls for regulated transparency in Glen Cove government

Renters may also face new regulations


Toward the end of the Glen Cove City Council’s pre-council meeting on Tuesday, Councilwoman Marsha Silverman gave her fellow council members a document outlining a request that the Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency provide the city with financial impact statements. She noted that the IDA’s ability to offer payments in lieu of taxes and other forms of tax assistance to residents and business owners was the driving force behind her idea. It could impact taxes brought in by the city, she said, which the council may not be aware of without mandatory financial impact statements.

Ann Fangmann, the IDA’s executive director, said she was always willing to provide this information to the council. This moved Councilman Kevin Maccarone to say that such a regulation would be superfluous, although he agreed with Silverman’s sentiment.

Silverman acknowledged Fangmann’s cooperation with the council, but added that things might be different if another administration were to take over the IDA, and that a regulation like the one she suggested would prevent future problems. “We need to do something so that the lines of communication are open no matter who sits in these seats,” she said.

Such a regulation would make it easier for residents to receive financial information through Freedom of Information Law requests, which Silverman said has been difficult for her and others. When the IDA grants tax assistance to a specific entity, she explained, that entity is not paying its fair share of taxes, and the agreement can force other taxpayers to subsidize those taxes. Her suggestion, Silverman said, would make it easier for taxpayers to see where their money is going.

Councilmen Joe Capobianco, Nicholas DiLeo and Maccarone all questioned the impact that Silverman’s suggestion would actually have. Maccarone said it was unnecessary, because the council has no say in whether tax benefits are approved by the IDA.

Mayor Tim Tenke, who is also the chairman of the IDA, said he had not granted any PILOTs during his tenure, and added that he would have no problem notifying the City Council about future PILOT requests.

Capobianco and Maccarone asked if Tenke and Fangmann could discuss the idea with the IDA at its next meeting on June 25, and both said they would.

Silverman’s idea coincides with a bill that passed the State Assembly on June 18, which, if approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would give the state comptroller the authority to audit local government entities, including IDAs. Assemblyman Michael Montesano, a Republican from Glen Head, said he strongly supported the bill, describing successful businesses’ requests for tax help from IDAs as “corporate welfare.”

Montesano said he supported IDA assistance when granted to businesses in need, such as startups or aging businesses that need help to stay afloat. Problems arise, he said, when businesses simply want to save money while making larger investments. IDA assistance in those cases can siphon money away from the county, and the debt can unfairly fall to taxpayers, Montesano said.

“The comptroller has to be able to audit [local IDAs] to see if what they’re doing is an appropriate expenditure of money,” he said. “Allowing for more transparency is something I hope to see happen more within New York’s government.”

Rock jetty safety and rentals

Other topics of discussion included the possible installation of a “No Climbing” sign near the rock jetty in Morgan Park, and potential adjustments in the city’s policy on short-term rentals.

According to City Attorney Charles McQuair, the police regularly sees people climbing on the Morgan Park jetty, many of whom are non-residents fishing in the park. This poses a significant safety risk, Tenke said, because the water can rise to dangerous levels, and people could potentially lose their footing and fall into the harbor. The hope is that a sign warning visitors that they could be fined for climbing on the jetty would reduce the risk. City officials are considering setting the fine at $200.

Regarding short-term rentals — renting out a primary residence for less than a month — Silverman said that neighbors can be put off by the potential for loud parties or excess traffic. She suggested permitting such rentals for only one week per month.

The council also discussed a potential change in the penalty that property owners may face if they fail to comply with the city’s rental registration laws. For example, landlords could face fines if it is discovered that they rent out apartments illegally or if their properties are deemed unfit for tenants. While the current minimum fine for such a violation is $500, new regulations could boost the fine to up to $1,000.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for June 25, at 7:30 p.m., at City Hall.