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Nassau IDA adopts transparency initiatives recommended by Curran

From left, Nassau IDA members John Coumatos, Christopher

From left, Nassau IDA members John Coumatos, Christopher Fusco, Timothy Williams, Joseph Kearney, Anthony Simon, Amy Flores and Richard Kessel at a meeting on March 28 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, at the behest of County Executive Laura Curran, adopted transparency initiatives Thursday, including the posting of businesses’ requests for tax breaks on the agency’s website.

The IDA, which is independent, also said it will hold quarterly forums for the public where economic development policies and other issues are discussed. The sessions would be in addition to the monthly public meetings where aid applications are debated and voted on by the agency’s board of directors.

The IDA will require business executives, not just their attorneys, to attend public hearings on aid applications. They are to make presentations and answer residents’ questions.

The changes are occurring as Long Island’s eight IDAs face increased scrutiny from some taxpayers, politicians and business people who say the incentives awarded cause everybody else’s taxes to go up with little benefit to the economy.

The IDA board — consisting of four nominees from Curran, a Democrat, and three holdovers from her predecessors Republican Edward Mangano and Democrat Thomas Suozzi — approved the changes unanimously Thursday night.

“These reforms benefit the taxpayers, the public and the applicants as well,” IDA board chairman Richard Kessel said. “This is not a criticism of how the IDA has operated” under Mangano.

Kessel also said the IDA will likely act next month on additional changes that Curran proposed in late March. She has called for a prohibition on tax breaks for automobile dealerships and self-storage facilities.

Curran said Thursday she was “very happy that the IDA . . . has implemented ethics reforms that help” the agency to “fulfill its mission to make our county more business friendly, to grow the tax base, and to create jobs.”

IDA board member Timothy Williams, who served as board chairman until last month, said the agency has been recognized by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and an economic development activist group “for being one of the most transparent IDAs in the state . . . The staff has done a great job of reaching out.”

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