About 50 residents protested Saturday morning at Hempstead Town Hall, calling for an end to tax breaks for Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.
Led by Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont), the residents picketed outside the closed Town Hall. They called for Supervisor Anthony Santino and the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency to revoke the deal with the mall, which led some resident’s property tax bills to increase up to 12 percent.
The December 2014 agreement for a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, for Green Acres’ California-based parent company, Macerich, was in exchange for a $79 million mall renovation and development of a shopping center next door.
The IDA held a public hearing before approving the deal, but no one came. Residents and government officials have said that proper notice of the meeting wasn’t given.
“We’ve been bamboozled. We’ve been conned. We’ve been taxed and didn’t get services,” Solages shouted through a megaphone. “It’s time we stand up as one community make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Solages and residents held signs and chanted, “Hey-ho, the PILOT has got to go!”
Reginald Mackey, 48, a father of two from Valley Stream, blames the mall deal for a jump in his tax bill of $1,200. He said he can’t afford to stay in the community if that doesn’t change.
“It’s unfair taxation without representation,” Mackey said. “We’re taxed again to build a multimillion-dollar corporation in California.”
Nearly 700 people attended a special meeting with the IDA last week calling for the tax breaks to be revoked and taxes to be refunded.
IDA officials said they would consider revoking the tax agreement, but does not have the authority to issue refunds. The agency has stressed that the mall deal was not the sole cause of the tax increase.
Members of the IDA said revoking the contract of the mall and tax breaks would open the agency and the town to litigation from Macerich, which has already nearly completed mall renovations.
Solages and residents also called on the town board to place a moratorium on future PILOT agreements and to issue tax refunds to residents.
Hempstead Town officials said the town’s authority begins and ends with appointing and removing IDA members.
“As a lawyer, Legis. Solages should know better. The town board has no authority under state law regarding PILOT agreements by the IDA,” town spokesman Mike Deery said.