The largest bottled water company in the country is seeking an additional 10 years of tax breaks to keep open its Syosset distribution center, officials said.
Nestlé Waters North America Inc. has requested the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency extend by another decade a deal that has reduced the company’s property taxes since 2008.
That deal expires in December and Nestlé attorney Daniel P. Deegan said without more tax incentives the company will be forced to close the 275-280 Oak Drive facility and serve Long Island customers from locations in Suffolk County, Queens, New Jersey or Connecticut.
More than 100 people, primarily truck drivers, work for Nestlé in Syosset. Records show they earn an average of $66,460 per year.
“Without that assistance, according to the reassessment numbers … there could be a doubling of what the existing taxes are and at that point Nestlé would have the option to pay that amount or walk away,” Deegan told the April meeting of the IDA board. “These are high-paying, high-quality jobs that are types of jobs we want to keep here in Nassau County.”
The company, a unit of Nestlé S.A. of Switzerland, sells water under the Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park and Nestlé Pure Life brand names, among others.
Nestlé Waters is requesting certainty in the property taxes on its Syosset facility, asking that they increase 2 percent in each of the next 10 years. Tax rates can vary greatly from year to year. The annual tax bill now totals $229,640, according to the company’s aid application.
Nestlé saved $437,170 in property taxes between 2012 and 2016 under its existing IDA deal, according to IDA reports filed with the state.
In addition to more property tax savings, the company is seeking a sales-tax exemption of up to $53,259 for a proposed propane fuel tank costing $1.2 million. The propane would be used to power delivery trucks, Deegan said.
In return for a second round of tax incentives, Nestlé will continue to rent the Syosset location and increase by 15 jobs its current commitment to employ at least 101 people there. The company has employed as many as 181 and as few as 105 in the seven years ended Dec. 31, 2018.
Earlier this month, the IDA board voted 6-0 with one abstention to negotiate a new tax-break deal with Nestlé.
Board member John Coumatos said he abstained out of concern about the quality of Nestlé water being impacted by the distance between a Framingham, Massachusetts, bottling plant and Long Island.
“The issue that I have is it’s being shipped from Massachusetts and it comes in trucks. … It sits in the truck in 90 degrees, 100 degrees, 30 degrees, and the water bottles aren’t being regulated,” said Coumatos, who also is a Bethpage water commissioner.
Nestlé executive Edward Cappetta said the company complies with all federal and state water regulations. He also said the Syosset facility receives eight tractor trailer deliveries of water from Massachusetts daily.
“So, it’s not sitting in the trailer from the [Massachusetts] facility to the distribution point. We have a warehouse,” Cappetta said.