The owner of the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream received the second-largest IDA tax break in the state in 2015, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said Monday — but his conclusion was challenged by local officials.
DiNapoli released a report showing that Green Acres owner Macerich saved $20.1 million in taxes in a single year under a deal with the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency to renovate the aging mall and to construct a strip plaza nearby, Green Acres Commons.
Responding to DiNapoli, Hempstead IDA attorney John Ryan said Macerich received no tax break in 2015 and paid more than $20 million in taxes. He also said the comptroller should have included in his report all of the information that the IDA filed with the state.
Ryan was critical of the state’s reporting system, saying that it “doesn’t account for tax payments actually made in 2015.”
DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman said the comptroller’s findings are based on information supplied by IDAs. “We did not find anything to support the Hemptstead IDA’s claim that they noted a $0 tax exemption on this project,” she said.
Macerich made a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, last year and will do so each year for at least 10 years. The Santa Monica, California-based company has pledged to retain and create nearly 3,000 permanent jobs.
The tax breaks have caused a furor in Valley Stream, and DiNapoli is conducting an audit of the IDA incentive package and the budgeting practices of a school district.
The property tax bills of some Valley Stream homeowners spiked because two school districts under-budgeted the amount they would receive from Macerich’s PILOT payments by a total of nearly $3 million.
Nicholas Stirling, superintendent of Valley Stream School District 30, said, “School districts also need to be given the dollar amount of PILOTS one year in advance to avoid having to estimate what they think they will receive in PILOTS.”
Macerich senior vice president Ken Volk said renovations to the mall and construction of Green Acres Commons created more than 800 permanent jobs and increased sales-tax revenue to governments.
In DiNapoli’s annual statewide review of IDAs, the largest tax break of 2015 was for a natural gas power plant in upstate Greene County.
The fifth-largest was for the Covanta waste-to-energy plant in Westbury, which saved $15.8 million in 2015 taxes after investing $296 million and employing 85 people. The incentives were also awarded by the Hempstead IDA.
Separately, the report said building projects supported by the Suffolk IDA have created 12,976 jobs in recent years, the third most among the state’s 109 active IDAs.
DiNapoli also found that three Long Islanders were among the five highest paid IDA employees in 2015. Wages come from IDA fees, not taxpayer dollars.
Nassau IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney earned $191,000, the second most after the CEO of the Genesee County IDA, Steven G. Hyde. Kearney’s salary equaled 7 percent of the Nassau IDA’s 2015 revenue.
Fred Parola, CEO of the Hempstead IDA, placed No. 4 with pay of $173,305, or 18 percent of the agency’s 2015 revenue.
The fifth-highest-paid IDA official in the state was Anthony J. Catapano of the Suffolk IDA, who earned $158,219, or 16 percent of the agency’s 2015 revenue.