Nassau gives tax breaks to Chevy dealer

Bical Chevrolet in Valley Stream has received tax Bical Chevrolet in Valley Stream has received tax breaks from Nassau County to reburbish its showroom and other buildings. (May 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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Nassau County granted tax breaks to an automobile dealership in Valley Stream earlier this week, using a loophole in the new state law that bars retailers from getting such aid.

Bical Chevrolet sought help from the county's industrial development agency for $1.5 million in renovations to its showrooms and maintenance garage at 709 W. Merrick Rd.

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    Without the improvements, officials said, Bical would lose its right to sell General Motors Corp. vehicles by failing to comply with the automaker's push for upgraded dealerships.

    "Unless this renovation is done, they'll have to close," said Joseph J. Kearney, the IDA's executive director. "Thirty seven people will be out of work."

    The car dealer's property taxes will be frozen for three years, then increased by 2 percent in each of the next nine years in return for creating eight jobs and protecting the current workforce. Bical employees, on average, earn $55,000 per year, records show.

    The property tax savings "will allow me to recoup some of the money I'm putting in," said Lilaahar Bical, who has owned the dealership for six years.

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    He also received an $86,250 sales tax exemption on the purchase of furniture and equipment.

    Bical Chevrolet qualified for IDA assistance because 50 percent of its customers come from outside Nassau.

    A high concentration of sales from outside an IDA's territory can exempt a retailer from the law forbidding tax breaks for retailers. The statute, adopted in March at the behest of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, reinstated a prohibition that expired in 2008.

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    The Nassau IDA has aided a couple of dealerships since 2008. A report released last week by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found tax breaks for retailers "generally do not increase economic activity or increase the number of available jobs in a region."

    Nassau officials said shuttered car dealerships would be a blow to the economy. County Executive Edward Mangano said, "Had this business been forced to close or relocate, a stretch of Merrick Road in the [Valley Stream] village might well have become an eyesore."

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