Coliseum would mean rise in commercial tax

The Nassau Coliseum. (July 15, 2011)

The Nassau Coliseum. (July 15, 2011) (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

If Nassau voters approve $350 million in borrowing to build a new Coliseum, commercial property owners will see their taxes rise to pay off the debt.

They would bear $4.8 million of the $25.6 million in annual debt service and utilities would pay $1.2 million. The remainder, $19.6 million would be paid by residential property owners, according to the independent Office of Legislative Budget Review in Nassau.

To examine the impact of the borrowing on commercial taxpayers, Newsday calculated the estimated county tax bills for the top 25 by multiplying their taxable assessment by tax rates provided by the budget review office.

The tax bills for 18 of those 25 property owners would increase by at least $20,000, Newsday found.

The Long Island Power Authority, the largest property taxpayer in the county, would pay $550,923 more. Other taxpayers that would see large hikes include Verizon, with an increase of up to $208,530, and Roosevelt Field mall, with a $97,194 increase.

"While we're always in favor of economic development, increased taxes on business is never a good thing," said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo.

A call to the mall's owner, Simon Property Group of Indianapolis, was not immediately returned.

Newsday's methodology and findings were reviewed by Steve Antonio, acting director of the budget review office, a nonpartisan agency that analyzes the county's finances.

"That's how the taxes are determined," Antonio said. "To the best of my knowledge that is accurate."

A Monday referendum will ask voters' permission to borrow up to $400 million -- $350 million for the new Coliseum, and up to $50 million for a minor league ballpark and multipurpose field.

County Executive Edward Mangano has said the arena project would boost business and help keep taxes down by providing additional revenue.

"Most commercial property owners, certainly those around [the Coliseum], believe [the project] will help lower taxes," he said in a Newsday interview this week.

Mangano said new economic activity would increase LIPA's business and make a rate increase for customers unnecessary. "Their bill is going to go up, and they're going to have more clients that will pay them for electricity," he said. The subject of the project's effect on commercial property taxes also came up Wednesday at a panel discussion hosted by News 12 Long Island.

Asked whether the property tax increase would be passed on to customers, LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in a statement, "As a property owner in Nassau County the Long Island Power Authority is currently reviewing and analyzing any effect the Nassau Coliseum bond issuance will have on LIPA and its rate payers."

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