The Nassau County attorney told the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency that it has until Monday to comply with subpoenas issued by the county comptroller for an audit into tax breaks for a Valley Stream mall.
Comptroller George Maragos is seeking documents relating to the tax agreement, which the IDA granted to the Green Acres Mall in December 2014.
Taxpayers and politicians have blamed the IDA’s deal for steep school tax hikes for Valley Stream residents. The IDA, however, maintains there were other factors at play, including school district budgeting.
Maragos, who is running for county executive, issued the subpoenas last month after he said the IDA had not delivered the documents.
The IDA says it has been cooperative, even though the agency does not believe Maragos has the authority to audit it. Answers to the subpoenas were due Nov. 16.
In a Dec. 2 letter to the IDA’s attorney, John Ryan, County Attorney Carnell Foskey said the comptroller’s subpoenas were a “valid exercise” of Maragos’ authority.
If the county attorney does not hear from the IDA by Monday, “a special proceeding will be commenced seeking to compel compliance with the subpoenas. This matter can still be resolved by providing the requested documents,” Foskey wrote.
On Tuesday, Ryan said the agency has offered to work with the auditors by showing them all the documents at the IDA’s office and allowing them to copy what they wanted.
“The documents are voluminous,” he said. “We have always been transparent, and we will continue to be.”
Maragos on Tuesday said the IDA must deliver copies of the documents to the his office, “which is the appropriate legal procedure.”
“The comptroller’s office does not want to engage in a wild-goose chase,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nassau Legis. C. William Gaylor III (R-Lynbrook) on Tuesday called on the Valley Stream school districts to return “$3 million in excess taxes” he says they overcharged taxpayers as a result of the IDA’s agreement with the mall.
District 30, one of three elementary school districts in Valley Stream that feeds into a central high school district, had underbudgeted the amount it would receive from the mall’s tax agreement by almost $3 million — about half of which goes to the high school district. The mall is located within District 30.
School officials say the IDA did not give them the exact amount they would receive, so they estimated it at 50 percent based on previous agreements. The figure turned out to be 72.7 percent.
District 30 Superintendent Nicholas Stirling has said the estimate was made in good faith and the district will return any excess money through a “reduced tax levy” for the 2017-18 school year.
“I’m not writing a check for individual people, it doesn’t work that way,” Stirling said.