The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency on Tuesday approved tax incentives for a Raymour & Flanigan furniture distribution warehouse in Lawrence despite objections from the school district.
The tax break is based on the property’s 2017 taxes, not a lower amount from 2016 that the board previously considered. It allows the company to make a payment to the taxing entities instead of paying taxes. Such “payment in lieu of taxes” agreements, known as PILOTs, are used as incentives to attract or keep businesses that will bring economic development and jobs to the area.
The 2017 tax figures from the county assessor’s office show the property’s current taxes increased to $433,248. The approved PILOT starts at the 2017 tax level, freezes them for three years and steadily increases until it finishes 10 years from the start date at $475,179, IDA documents show.
Under the previous PILOT proposal, the first three years’ payments would have been equal to the warehouse property’s 2016 tax bill of $377,587.
The new PILOT was unanimously approved by the four IDA board members present at Tuesday’s special meeting. Now the furniture retailer can complete the property’s purchase from current owner Ceva Logistics, a freight forwarding company. IDA officials said the PILOT would start during the 2018-2019 school year.
Daniel Baker, the furniture retailer’s East Meadow-based attorney, said Raymour & Flanigan would not have completed the property’s sale if the PILOT had not been approved.
The IDA is made up of six members with a seventh yet to be appointed by town officials. A previous board granted tax breaks to the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream in December 2014 that Valley Stream residents say increased their tax billsIDA officials have said several factors were responsible, including school budgeting practices.
In Lawrence, Raymour & Flanigan plans to employ 70 full-time workers at the location by the end of the second year of the tax breaks, which also include a sales tax exemption and a mortgage recording tax abatement, according to IDA documents.
The Lawrence school district protested the PILOT, saying it doesn’t take into account the property’s sale price of $27 million. The property, located at 55 Johnson Rd. in Lawrence, has been assessed at $6.9 million.
“What we witnessed here today was theft of resources from some of the neediest children on Long Island,” Lawrence school board President Murray Forman said after the agency’s vote.
But IDA officials said even if the PILOT had been denied, the county assessor’s office “cannot raise the assessed value to $27 million overnight,” board member John Ferretti Jr. said during the meeting.
The IDA does not take purchase price into account for its tax breaks and the application fees it collects for projects are nonrefundable, even if the tax incentives are not approved.