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Hempstead To Vote On Removal Of Town IDA Members

Courtesy of Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency

The Hempstead Town Board on Long Island will vote to remove the members of its Industrial Development Agency later this month. This comes after the board granted millions of dollars in tax breaks to the owners of the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. As a result, property taxes for homeowners have increased by hundreds of dollars.

The New York legislature created the first Industrial Development Agency in 1969 as a way to encourage economic growth. IDAs are made up of members selected by the municipal government. They're charged with attracting new business to the region and enticing others to stay by offering local tax exemptions, though they must follow state guidelines.

Today there are just over 100 IDAs in counties, cities and towns across New York State.   

Adelphi University Adjunct Business Professor Thomas Shinick says IDA projects can be exempt from mortgage recording and sales tax. They can also offset property taxes through what’s known as a PILOT, or Payment In Lieu Of Taxes.

“And that is the biggest problem we have here in the Green Acres area. The tax burden has been shifted to the residents of the town and those communities and it has been added to their tax base.”

The Hempstead Town IDA granted the owner of the Green Acres Mall a $14 million PILOT on the mall’s renovation in 2014. That hiked taxes up to as much as $750 per homeowner this month in Valley Stream.

Town Supervisor Anthony Santino will call for a vote on November 15 to remove all of the town’s IDA members.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.