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Freeport seeks $2.5M in damages in sales tax claim

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy on Sept. 21, 2017.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy on Sept. 21, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

The Village of Freeport is seeking at least $2.5 million in damages from Nassau County and Hempstead Town through a notice of claim alleging that the other governments are not fairly handing over a percentage of sales tax to the village, documents show.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, Nassau County Village Officials Association president, has said that a major issue facing villages is how sales tax revenue is distributed among municipalities. Dozens of mayors last year signed a petition asking for “equal distribution” of sales taxes.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and then-Republican challenger Jack Martins in a debate last year both said they would work to see that villages “got their fair share” of the revenue.

The notice of claim, which can be a precursor to a lawsuit, is dated June 1.

“We hope to resolve this as soon as possible, however, Freeport residents deserve their fair share and we will not stop until an adequate, equitable, and appropriate resolution is reached,” Kennedy said in a statement, noting that he hoped other villages would join.

The village alleges that state law allows Nassau County to collect three-quarters of 1 percent of additional sales tax and that one-third of that amount must be distributed to the three towns and two cities for several purposes, including for municipal solid waste programs. Villages are allowed to receive one-sixth of 1 percent, after the one-third of 1 percent is distributed — a figure that some mayors hope to negotiate.

In 2016, the village received more than $119,000 — as it has annually since 2011 — but got nothing in 2017 before getting $119,000 again this year, officials said.

Freeport claims that Hempstead Town has inflated the villages’ population figures to “artificially increase” its amount of revenue, and it fraudulently uses the money for allocated solid waste disposal because it does not provide that service for Freeport.

Freeport provides its own solid waste disposal to residents for $2.5 million annually, officials said. Officials say they are seeking at least $2.5 million.

“The Town of Hempstead is fully compliant with the current law. In the interest of municipal cooperation, and upon learning of the Village’s concerns, the Town immediately met with the Mayor and then arranged a meeting with County officials in order to find a solution,” Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Fricchione said in a statement.

Nassau County spokesman Mike Martino declined to comment. The governor’s office did not immediately have a comment.

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