Altice USA Inc. has won millions of dollars in tax breaks from Nassau County to support planned renovations of half of the company’s office space in Bethpage. The project is valued at up to $60 million, according to the company's application for aid.
The county’s Industrial Development Agency, in a unanimous vote by its board of directors on Wednesday, granted the provider of Optimum cable television, internet and telephone services a sales-tax exemption of up to $2.5 million on the purchase of construction materials, equipment and supplies for improvements to 1111 Stewart Ave.
Altice also received a 10-year deal to limit property tax increases. In the first year the company will see no increase; hikes of 1.84 percent will follow in each of the next nine years. The first year the company will pay about $2.7 million in property taxes.
In return, Altice has pledged to preserve 1,800 jobs, including employees who now work at the Bethpage operations center and those working in other facilities that are to be consolidated into the center, including the News 12 Long Island studios, now in Woodbury.
The IDA deal comes after Altice moved its headquarters from Bethpage to Long Island City, Queens, and laid off some local workers, according to company executives and government filings. The company has not disclosed the number.
Altice USA was formed in 2016 by parent Altice N.V. of the Netherlands when it purchased Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage for $17.7 billion. Cablevision owned Newsday at the time.
“Consolidating and retaining jobs is important considering that there has been talk about Altice relocating [jobs] outside Nassau County, which would not be good for the county or its taxpayers,” IDA board chairman Richard Kessel said Wednesday.
News 12 needs the proposed modern studios, he said, adding the news channel “has been an extraordinary contributor to Long Island.”
Kessel made similar comments at a Dec. 7 public hearing after Garden City attorney Bradley L. Gerstman, a lobbyist and political donor, testified that Altice USA shouldn’t receive tax breaks because of layoffs at News 12.
“They aren’t promising to add any employees,” Gerstman said. “I see absolutely no reason to grant them any tax savings.”
Altice spokeswoman Lisa Anselmo said, “We are excited at the opportunity to invest further in this Long Island facility by building a new multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art News 12 studio and providing a collaborative work environment to help expedite innovations and advanced technologies.”
Altice has nearly 5 million customers across 21 states.