The Hempstead Town Board is scheduled to vote Tuesday to appoint a seventh member of the town’s Industrial Development Agency, according to its meeting agenda.
West Hempstead resident Gerilyn S. Smith, 37, would join the agency as it grapples with tax breaks granted to the Green Acres Mall in 2014 by a different IDA board. Taxpayers and elected officials believe the mall’s tax breaks caused steep tax hikes for Valley Stream residents.
The IDA, however, says a variety of factors are at play, including school budgeting practices. The IDA hosted a public meeting Thursday to hear residents’ concerns about the issue and the agency may revoke the tax breaks.
In November, six members of the IDA board who had granted the tax breaks resigned en masse before Town Supervisor Anthony Santino could fire them the next day. The IDA board, whose members are not paid, can be hired and removed by the town board.
Six members of the Town Board approved the new IDA board last year; Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, the board’s only Democrat, abstained because she said she was not given ample time to review the appointees’ backgrounds.
The current IDA board members are: Arthur Nastre, who serves as chairman of the board; acting Nassau County Chief Deputy Clerk John Ferretti Jr.; Lynbrook Mayor William Hendrick; Mineola attorney Steven Raiser; Freeport pastor, the Rev. Dr. Eric Mallette; and previous IDA board member, Florestano Girardi. All are registered Republicans, as is the majority of the town board.
If appointed, Smith, who is also a registered Republican, will also serve on the town’s Local Development Corporation, which provides low interest, tax-exempt bonds to nonprofits.
Smith’s father, Gerald Wright, is former chairman of the Town of Hempstead Zoning Board of Appeals, according to Goosby and previous Newsday stories. Goosby said she plans to meet with Smith before Tuesday’s meeting.
Smith could not be reached for comment on Friday. Spokesmen from the IDA and Hempstead Town did not have any information about Smith’s nomination.