Elected officials from across the political spectrum called for Amazon to be stripped of tax breaks by Nassau County if the retailer doesn’t increase its countywide workforce by 150 jobs at a soon-to-open warehouse in Syosset.
The officials said the county’s Industrial Development Agency must hold Amazon and the developer of the Syosset warehouse, Syosset Park Development LLC, accountable for the job commitment made last year in return for about $11 million in tax aid over 15 years.
The politicians were responding to last week’s Newsday report that Amazon will close one of its warehouses in Bethpage and transfer hundreds of workers from that facility to others, including the Syosset location. More than 500 people work out of the warehouse at 201 Grumman Rd. W. in Bethpage, which is scheduled to shut down by September, according to sources with direct knowledge of Amazon’s plan.
IDA representatives, who are in talks with Amazon, said the agency would claw back the tax incentives if the retailer fails to meet job targets that are in addition to the total number of people employed at Amazon’s two warehouses in Bethpage and one in Carle Place.
Amazon has promised to create the equivalent of 15 full-time management jobs and 100 full-time package handler jobs during its first year of using the Syosset warehouse; five and 15 in each category in the second year, and five and 10 in the third year.
The managers would be paid $60,000 per year and the package handlers $15 per hour, according to the application for IDA assistance.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, "The IDA should claw back all tax breaks if [Amazon] fails to create the number of new jobs they promised for our community.”
The Republican added the town “appreciates the environmental cleanup that Amazon paid for in Syosset” where the former Cerro Wire factory polluted the ground for decades.
County Legis. Arnold W. Drucker (D-Plainview) said he had opposed the IDA awarding tax breaks to the online retailer because of its extraordinary wealth.
“A company like Amazon doesn’t need tax breaks,” Drucker said. “I fully expect the IDA to claw back every cent of the tax breaks if Amazon doesn’t fulfill its pledge to create 150 jobs … If they’re going to short-circuit that by adding some of the Bethpage employees — that’s an affront to the taxpayers of Nassau County,” he said.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, said on Monday, "My team is currently in the process of reviewing the terms of the agreement, and will work with the IDA to find a solution that protects Nassau taxpayers and continues to encourage businesses to come here."
IDA chairman Richard Kessel said the agency is meeting with Amazon.
“We’ve made it very clear to Amazon the jobs that they committed to in the Syosset facility have to be new jobs, not job transfers,” he said. “I can assure you that the IDA is going to stay on top of this.”
The IDA awarded tax breaks to the Bethpage warehouse that Amazon is leaving before the retailer became a tenant in 2016.
Amazon spokeswoman Alisa Carroll told Newsday, "We regularly look at how we can improve the experience for our employees, partners, drivers and customers, and that includes upgrading our facilities. As part of that effort, we have made the decision to close our Bethpage facility and are offering all employees the opportunity to transfer to other Amazon facilities nearby that offer upgraded amenities, including increased on-site parking and larger operational spaces," she said on Tuesday.
Carroll did not address questions about the Bethpage workforce or whether Amazon will be able to create 150 jobs at the Syosset warehouse that are in addition to the employment at its other warehouses in Nassau.