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Hempstead Town Board postpones vote on new IDA board member

Hempstead Town IDA board members attend a meeting

Hempstead Town IDA board members attend a meeting in Hempstead on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Town Board on Tuesday adjourned a vote on a new member of the town’s Industrial Development Agency and postponed the potential board appointment until its next meeting in February.

Gerilyn S. Smith, 37, of West Hempstead, would become the agency’s seventh board member as the IDA considers revoking tax breaks granted to the Green Acres Mall in 2014 by a different IDA board.

While taxpayers and elected officials say the mall’s tax breaks, known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT, triggered steep tax hikes for Valley Stream residents, the IDA says a variety of factors contributed to the increases, including school budgeting practices.

Town Supervisor Anthony Santino had planned to ask the town board to remove the previous IDA members in November, but they resigned en masse the day before. The IDA board members can be hired and dismissed by the town board.

When the last round of IDA members was approved, Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby abstained from the vote, saying she had not had enough time to review the nominees’ qualifications.

On Tuesday, Santino said Smith’s appointment was postponed so that Goosby could meet with her.

Nassau Legis. Carrie Solages (D-Elmont) told the town board that he supported the adjournment. Santino cut him off before he could speak further about the Green Acres controversy.

Solages spoke again during the meeting’s public comment period, at times arguing with Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman. Solages asked why a Valley Stream resident hadn’t been appointed to the IDA board and said the IDA board is “running amok.”

Blakeman said Solages’ recent protest criticized IDA members who may overturn the tax breaks. “That was done to help the taxpayers,” Blakeman said.

“I don’t agree with your alternative facts,” Solages responded, using a phrase coined by President Donald Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday.

A representative for Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) said she also agreed with the postponement.

Town board members will vote on Smith’s appointment during its regular meeting on Feb. 7 at 10:30 a.m.


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