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IDA holds off on tax breaks for Hempstead Village business

Tax breaks for a commercial laundry were put on hold following allegations of inflated employment figures.

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby addresses the town

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby addresses the town IDA at a special board meeting on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency is seeking additional employment information from a commercial laundry in Hempstead Village before deciding whether to finalize tax breaks for the business.

The IDA held a special board meeting Tuesday to hear testimony from representatives of FDR Services Corp. and the union that represents the company’s workers. The IDA’s deal with the laundry for tax breaks is on hold.

“It has come to our attention that there may be some issues with the employment numbers,” IDA chairman Florestano Girardi said.

The union, the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, has disputed FDR’s claims that it has 250 employees, and says there are about 160 union workers and roughly 20 managers.

FDR president Keith Luneburg and vice president Jesse McCormack said they would submit the company’s payroll records to the IDA.

“This community needs these jobs,” Luneburg said. “This company needs this community. This is a match made.”

Megan Chambers, the union’s spokeswoman, told the IDA that the union has filed complaints against FDR with the National Labor Relations Board for unfair labor practices and illegal layoffs following a strike. She said there are pending lawsuits against the laundry.

“It would be a terrible shame for the IDA to give away tax dollars to a law-breaking company that has stripped workers of their benefits and their legal rights,” she said.

Two workers – Dalia Orellana, 40, and Maria Valladares, 55, both of Hempstead Village – whom Chambers said had been laid off in February after the strike, attended the meeting. FDR has disputed the layoffs.

Girardi said it was not the IDA’s job to factor litigation into its decision.

James Marsh, the IDA’s vice chairman, said the agency’s goal is to preserve employment in the economically distressed village.

“Whether it’s good jobs, bad jobs, that’s not really our say,” he said. “If they [FDR] fail, everything we grant goes away.”

The IDA is also examining FDR’s claim of relocating to Suffolk County if it is not granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks, citing family connections between FDR and the company it rents the property from.

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