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Politicians want audit of Green Acres Mall's PILOT agreements

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Two state legislators have requested that the state comptroller perform an audit of tax breaks given to the Green Acres Mall by the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency.

The tax breaks were issued two years ago in the form of payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, and Valley Stream taxpayers are now getting the first bills to be adjusted for them.

The PILOT plan, which outlines the mall’s payments for the next 10 to 15 years, was issued to spur economic prosperity in the area surrounding the mall and create jobs. The financial impact of the mall’s tax break — a $6 million shortage in the first year — will be redistributed across the different classes of properties in Valley Stream.

Bills were projected to increase in Districts 13, 24 and 30, despite the fact that the mall is only within District 30’s taxing jurisdiction, because of the way centralized high school districts in New York State are funded. Each elementary district must pay a portion of the Central High School District budget, based on the taxable property in that elementary district. Because the mall is coming off the tax rolls, District 30’s payment to the Central High School District will shrink, and that shortage will be redistributed across District 13’s and District 24’s properties.

On average, bills were projected to increase by 4.6 percent this year in District 13 (about $324), and by 5.2 percent in District 24 (about $322). Because the PILOT affects District 30 directly, however, the district’s average tax bills were projected to increase the most over the last tax year, by about 12.2 percent, or $758, according to the county assessor.

Three weeks ago representatives from the Hempstead Town Board sent a letter to the IDA demanding that it revisit its decision, though Fred Parola, the Hempstead IDA’s executive director, told the Herald that doing so isn’t legally possible.

State Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) wrote a letter last week, outlining the reasons they believed the matter deserved a state audit.

“Many of our constituents have informed us that they were never notified about this PILOT until recently,” they wrote. “Unbelievably, no residents showed up to the public hearings held by the IDA — a clear sign that no one knew what the IDA was considering.”

The lawmakers asked that the audit examine the cost benefit of job creation in relation to the tax increases, and whether proper notice was given to all those impacted.

In the last few weeks the Village Board of Trustees, Nassau County Legislator William Gaylor and Republican candidate for the 9th Senate District Chris McGrath have all condemned the IDA’s decision.

A discussion forum was scheduled during a portion of District 24’s Board of Education meeting on Oct. 19. See the follow-up story in next week’s issue.

Have you received your tax bills? How have you been affected by this issue? Send signed letters to the editor to Nick Ciccone at nciccone@liherald.com or to 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530.