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Nassau lawmaker, Valley Stream officials discuss potential tax relief

Nassau Legis. C. William Gaylor III, center, speaks

Nassau Legis. C. William Gaylor III, center, speaks with school district officials during a meeting at William L. Buck School in Valley Stream on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Valley Stream schools officials and a Nassau County legislator on Thursday discussed recent tax hikes in the village that have been blamed on tax breaks granted to the Green Acres Mall.

School districts raised concerns that their portion of the mall’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, might not be paid in full when the second half is due in June. They also talked about asking the mall’s owner, California-based Macerich, to push the payment up in time.

The meeting at the William L. Buck School included Legis. C. William Gaylor III (R-Lynbrook) and officials from the village’s four school districts and their lawyers. Also in attendance were representatives from the offices of the Valley Stream village mayor; Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino; Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman; county Legis. Carrie Solages (D-Elmont); state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach); Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) and the county assessor’s office.

Residents who showed up at the school were not allowed into the meeting.

“We did advise them that there would be a larger forum” later in the month, said District 24 Superintendent Ed Fale. “It was not intended to be a public hearing, it was not intended to be a civic hearing.”

The public can attend meetings on Jan. 12 at the Gateway Christian Center in Valley Stream, and on Jan. 19 at the Robert W. Carbonaro School in Valley Stream.

At the meeting, officials mulled possible legislation that would give taxpayers relief after the village’s school districts under-budgeted the amount they would receive from the PILOT agreement by nearly $3 million.

Schools officials say they were not told by the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency, which granted the tax breaks about two years ago, how much money they would receive. The IDA, however, says it gave the schools the information.

Nicholas Stirling, superintendent of School District 30, previously said any extra funds would be returned to taxpayers through a “reduced tax levy” for the 2017-18 school year. But district officials floated the idea of a legislative solution where the county assessor’s office would give taxpayers back the excess funds when the PILOT payment was made so residents wouldn’t have to wait until next year.

Chris Ostuni, majority counsel for the Nassau County Legislature, said if that happened, the returned funds would make up about a third of the increased taxes.

“It’s not everything but it represents a really nice chunk,” he said.

Representatives from Macerich and the IDA were not present at the meeting. They were not listed in a letter Gaylor sent last month to invite elected officials to the meeting.

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