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Hempstead Town IDA awarded tax breaks to dealership

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen is seen

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen is seen on Feb. 6. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency on Thursday awarded tax incentives to a car dealership in Hempstead Village over the objections of Town Supervisor Laura Gillen.

The IDA voted 7-2 to grant a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, as well as exemptions for sales taxes and mortgage-recording taxes to Garden City Mazda on North Franklin Street. IDA vice chairman James Marsh and board member John Ardito voted against the project.

The tax incentives allow for the construction of a new dealership, at 225 North Franklin St., and the demolition of the current one, at 209 North Franklin St., IDA documents show. It will keep 50 workers and create 11 full-time jobs by the end of the second year of the project and five apprenticeships per year for local high school students. Construction jobs will also use local workers.

“The creation of a mere 11 jobs shouldn’t be financed with tax revenue taken from the hardworking residents of the Town of Hempstead,” said Adam Haber, Gillen’s executive assistant of economic development and government efficiency, at a March 14 public hearing on the project, speaking on behalf of the supervisor. “The Town of Hempstead’s IDA should pursue organizations that focus on technology, health care or light manufacturing instead of car dealerships.”

Ardito said Thursday he was “not impressed” with the job creation figures in the agreement.

The dealership is next to a low-income Census tract in the village and its current taxes are $158,996.44. The PILOT will freeze those taxes for three years, then steadily increase until they hit $190,706 in the 10th year.

Village Mayor Don Ryan supports the project, though the village’s school district and several local critics — including incoming trustee Jeffery Daniels — do not, according to copies of the public meeting’s minutes and a letter from Ryan to the IDA.

“Five positions does not do much for a 3,000-student high school,” said Jack Bierwirth, a state-designated “distinguished educator” for the Hempstead school district, at the March 14 hearing.

The Nassau County IDA has awarded tax breaks to three car dealerships using a so-called “tourism exception” to a 2013 state law that bars giving tax breaks to retailers unless more than 50 percent of their patrons come from outside an IDA’s jurisdiction.

County Executive Laura Curran on Tuesday called for the county IDA to stop using the exception.

The Hempstead Town IDA approved seven car dealership projects in 2009 and 2011, before the 2013 state prohibition and its tourism exception existed.

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