Islip Town looks to hike developer's taxes

The Heartland minicity project in Brentwood is among

The Heartland minicity project in Brentwood is among those on Long Island getting support from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council in its proposal to the governor. The agency is competing for $40 million to be given regionally. (March 2011) Photo Credit: Handout

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Islip Town officials may increase the property taxes on the stalled $4 billion Heartland project under a tax-abatement agreement that could be approved later this month.

The town is negotiating with the developer to increase the tax payments of the multimillion-dollar break, which has expired.

Contingent on the deal, town officials said Wednesday, is the blessing of officials in the Brentwood School District, which receives the lion's share of the payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT.

Gerald Wolkoff, who purchased the 450-acre property from the state for $20 million in 2002, would have paid $3.3 million in property taxes last year; he paid $1.6 million.

Wolkoff said Wednesday that he plans to meet with school officials, but opposes making a higher payment. "I'm not amenable to paying more than I'm paying now," he said. "I believe that [Islip officials] understand my position. I've paid my fair share."

He added, "I'll pay what my fair share is -- no more, no less."

The project has been stalled in part by funding issues and by disputes about who will pay for road changes and the role of unions in construction.

In the decade since Wolkoff purchased the home of the former Pilgrim State Hospital, he has paid about $13 million in property taxes, officials said.

"It will probably help in pushing the project towards completion," said Bill Mannix, executive director of the Islip Industrial Development Agency, which administers PILOT agreements. "Ten years have gone by, and nothing has occurred, we wouldn't have anticipated that in 2002, and I think everybody involved wants to see something happen here."

School officials have no official role in approving the PILOTs, which are approved by the town board.

Since school officials signed off on the agreement 10 years ago, both the superintendent and the makeup of the board have changed in the increasingly diverse school district.

Brentwood Superintendent Joseph Bond could not be reached for comment. Board president Helen Moss did not respond to an email or phone messages seeking comment.

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