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Hempstead IDA executive director retires to become part-time CEO

Fred Parola is to reduce his work for the agency to no more than three days per week, and move from a $175,000 annual salary to being paid $85.26 per hour.

Fred Parola, head of the Hempstead IDA, listens

Fred Parola, head of the Hempstead IDA, listens during a meeting on Thursday, May 12, 2016 in Hempstead. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town IDA executive director and chief executive Fred Parola is retiring at the end of the year from his full-time positions to become the agency’s part-time chief executive.

Parola, 71, of Wantagh, is a former Nassau County comptroller and state assemblyman who has worked at the town Industrial Development Agency since January 2002. He is paid about $175,000 annually in his full-time capacity but will make $85.26 an hour beginning Jan. 1. IDA staff members’ salaries are paid from project fees, not tax money.

The IDA board voted unanimously 6-0 during a special meeting Wednesday to hire Parola on a part-time basis.

IDA documents show that as chief executive, Parola can work, at most, three days a week. His employment is at the pleasure of the IDA board. He said he expects to work about a day and a half a week and devote the rest of his time to his Wantagh law firm.

“It’s time to get a little flexibility and move on and give somebody else a chance,” he said.

IDA board chairman Florestano Girardi said Parola will help the new members of the board — who were appointed by the town board Dec. 12 — as they learn their roles. Girardi said the board will evaluate month-by-month if a full-time executive director is needed but added it might not be financially feasible for a while.

Parola’s retirement comes after the state comptroller last week released an audit stating the IDA was within its authority to grant tax incentives to the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. Valley Stream homeowners for more than a year blamed the IDA for causing their property taxes to jump as much as 14 percent in their school tax bills. The audit, however, reported the tax increase was largely because of errors in Valley Stream School District 30’s budgeting practices.

Parola said he wanted to wait to retire until the audit was issued. Some residents had blamed Parola personally for their tax increases but he said he knew the agency would ultimately be vindicated.

“It affected the way we were perceived,” he said. “Some of my admirers out there just wanted me fired.”

Girardi said the IDA has been getting fewer applications for tax breaks from developers, resulting in less business for the agency. He alluded to the dispute over the Green Acres Mall being the cause, especially with a lawsuit filed against the IDA by the mall’s owner, California-based Macerich.

Parola, who is also the leader of the Wantagh Republican Club, said he and the IDA’s four other staff members have increased development and created new jobs in the town through the agency’s work.

“I think we have enhanced the economics of the township,” he said.

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