The Hempstead Town Board on Tuesday approved Gerilyn S. Smith as the newest member of the town’s Industrial Development Agency.
Smith, 37, of West Hempstead, was unanimously approved during the town board’s regular meeting.
Smith, a registered Republican, is the director of guidance for the Roosevelt school district, according to her resume. Her father, Gerald Wright, is a former chairman of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
She becomes the agency’s seventh board member amid a controversy over tax breaks granted to the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. A previous IDA board approved the mall’s tax incentives in 2014 and has been blamed for steep tax hikes for Valley Stream residents.
The current IDA board may revoke those tax breaks, even though it says other factors — including school budgeting practices — are at fault for the tax increases.
IDA board members are not paid, and can only be hired and removed by the town board.
Smith also was appointed as a member of the town’s Local Development Corp., which provides low-interest, tax-exempt bonds to nonprofits.
Her nomination to the IDA board came up at last month’s town board meeting, but a vote was postponed so that Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby could meet with Smith first.
Goosby said Tuesday that she has since interviewed Smith and approved her nomination “wholeheartedly.”
Goosby said Smith’s educational experience is important because school districts are affected when the IDA grants tax breaks.
The current IDA board members, besides Smith, are: Arthur Nastre, who serves as the board’s chairman; acting Nassau County Chief Deputy Clerk John Ferretti Jr.; Lynbrook Mayor William Hendrick; Mineola attorney Steven Raiser; the Rev. Eric Mallette of Freeport; and previous IDA board member Florestano Girardi, a small-business owner. All are registered Republicans, as is the majority of the town board.
Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said in a statement that he was disappointed the new appointment didn’t represent Valley Stream.
“It’s disappointing that after months of the people of Valley Stream being disenfranchised by the Hempstead IDA Green Acres tax hike and both myself and residents calling upon Supervisor [Anthony] Santino to appoint a voice for Valley Stream to the Hempstead IDA, we have been ignored,” Solages wrote.
Hendrick, as Lynbrook mayor, has recused himself from the Green Acres issue to avoid a conflict of interest because his constituents are in Valley Stream school districts, IDA officials have said.