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Nassau Comptroller Maragos calls for changes at county's Industrial Development Agency

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is seen on

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is seen on Oct. 8, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is calling for changes at the county's Industrial Development Agency, citing the agency's "underperformance" in creating new jobs compared with other county IDAs in the region.

In a letter Wednesday to IDA executive director Joseph Kearney, Maragos cited a recent report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that shows Nassau lags behind Suffolk and Westchester counties in the number of jobs created by projects that receive IDA tax breaks.

"Nassau is spending more money and creating fewer jobs than our neighbors to the east and north," Maragos said. "I want us to be leading the region in job creation."

DiNapoli's annual report, which is based on data provided by 109 IDAs across the state, shows Nassau issued $43.3 million in net tax exemptions in 2013 -- the most recent year available -- and created 3,886 jobs.

In 2013, the Suffolk IDA created 12,042 jobs with $9.1 million in net tax exemptions; Westchester's IDA created 7,847 jobs and issued $12.4 million in net tax exemptions, DiNapoli's report showed.

Kearney called the figures an "anomaly" in an interview and noted that nearly 6,000 jobs that Nassau IDA was previously credited with creating or retaining were removed from the agency's ledger in 2013 because a project's funding had concluded.

Kearney also pointed to figures showing that tax exemptions to existing Nassau businesses had helped retain 12,771 jobs in 2013, compared with 9,872 in Suffolk and 9,769 in Westchester.

"We are not underperforming," Kearney said. "I am proud of the job we have done, are doing and will continue to do."

Maragos urged Kearney to review the IDA's job creation strategies, increase marketing and advertising to attract new industries and consider personnel changes.

Kearney said he didn't "believe any changes need to be made." Kearney also said the IDA will submit revised data to DiNapoli for 2012.

A data entry error that the IDA has since discovered credited the agency with 14,180 jobs in 2012 for its role in helping Cablevision obtain $59 million in low-cost financing to build its offices in Bethpage in 1997, Kearney said. The jobs stay on the books for the life of the financing or bonding agreements. The correct figure is 1,418 jobs, Kearney said.

A Cablevision spokeswoman was unable to confirm details of the job figures. Cablevision is Newsday's parent company.

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