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Tax breaks for Green Acres Mall unfair, say state lawmakers

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Michaelle

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Michaelle Solages, (D-Elmont), center, are joined by Valley Stream community residents, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Two state lawmakers on Monday criticized tax breaks given to the owner of Green Acres Mall that are resulting in higher taxes for residents in three school districts.

Meanwhile, the Hempstead Town board is demanding that the town’s Industrial Development Agency revisit its decision to grant those tax breaks.

However, the IDA’s executive director, Fred Parola, said it’s too late and the deal cannot legally be changed.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) held a press conference in front of the Valley Stream Central High School with a handful of residents standing behind them holding signs like “No taxation without representation” and “Reform IDAs now.”

The lawmakers said the tax breaks for the mall - including a $14 million PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes - have resulted in tax increases for residents who live in Valley Stream school districts 30, 24 and 13. They said the average annual increases will be between $322 and $758.

“You only need to be in elementary school to understand that taxation without representation is un-American,” Kaminsky said.

Santa Monica, California-based Macerich, the Valley Stream mall’s owner, was granted a sales-tax exemption of $6 million, a mortgage-recording tax exemption, and an agreement for a payment in lieu of taxes on its planned $79 million renovation to the approximately 1.7 million-square-foot mall in December 2014 by Hempstead Town’s Industrial Development Agency.

Under the agency’s rules, the mall qualified as a tourist destination because it brings at least 51 percent of its business from outside the county.

Parola said the IDA posted the necessary notices and contacted public officials in Valley Stream to notify them of two meetings held in the village before the decision was final, but no one showed up.

“Nobody was interested,” Parola said. “So maybe they should be looking in the mirror when they point the finger.”

Macerich can voluntarily opt to give some money back - as Parola said he’s seen some developers do on smaller projects - but they cannot be compelled to do so.

Representatives from Macerich could not be reached for comment.

Kaminsky and Solages started a petition calling for Hempstead Town board officials to pressure the town’s Industrial Development Agency to reverse its decision. The town board had already taken action.

“They have demanded that the case be re-opened,” town spokesman Mike Deery said.

Members of the agency are appointed by the town board, and if the IDA refuses to reconsider, Kaminsky and Solages said the town board should demand its members resign.

Although the IDA granted the tax breaks nearly two years ago, Deery said the tax roll was only approved by the Board of Assessors and the increases are only coming to light now.

The three school districts affected posted letters on their websites warning their residents of the change to their tax bills. District 24’s Board of Education wrote that the increase will be reflected in the October tax bill and invited residents to a board meeting to discuss the issue at the William L. Buck School on Oct. 19.


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