Despite pushback from a local school district and a homeowners' group, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency granted Nestlé Waters an additional 10 years of tax breaks on its distribution facility.
Nestlé, the largest bottled water company in the country, requested the tax relief in April as an extension of a deal that has reduced its property taxes since 2008.
Daniel P. Deegan, Nestlé's attorney, said at a meeting May 16 that the aid was necessary to ensure that the company's 54,416-square-foot center at 275-280 Oak Dr. in Syosset remains open.
"We understand there's some objections because we've engaged in discussions with the [Syosset] school district, but ... there's a reason why these types of decisions are made at a regional level and not at a very localized level," he said, adding that although not all Nestlé workers employed at that location live in Syosset, most do live in Nassau and Suffolk.
More than 100 people, earning an average of $66,460 a year, are employed at the company's Syosset location, according to Nestlé's aid application.
In exchange for the new tax incentives, which were granted last week and include a sales-tax exemption of up to $53,259 for a proposed $1.2 million propane fuel tank, Nestlé will add 15 jobs to its current employment commitment of 101 workers.
Attorney Carrie Anne Tondo, partner at Ingerman Smith, a Hauppauge law firm that represents the Syosset school district, submitted to the IDA lengthy documents opposing the tax breaks. Thomas L. Rogers, the district's superintendent, voiced concerns about the tax deal before the IDA's vote. "The cost of this will be borne at the local level because school taxes are the primary taxes you are forgiving the applicant."
Both Tondo and Rogers said they were disappointed about the decision. "By no means are we against economic development," Rogers said. "But when this type of aid is granted, it is with the understanding that it's a temporary relief which will lead to a long-term benefit. If companies never fully rejoin the tax base, when will we see that benefit?"
Earlier this month at a public hearing in Oyster Bay Village, the civic group Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset said homeowners would be harmed by a proposal to give Nestlé Waters more tax breaks. “Homeowners can no longer afford to shoulder tax giveaways to giant corporations,” said Laura Schultz, president of the 200-member group. “It is time for corporations to break their addiction to these tax breaks.”