A Nassau County legislator called Thursday for a moratorium on tax breaks granted by the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency while he asks authorities to investigate tax incentives the agency approved for Green Acres Mall.
Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said during a community forum in Valley Stream that he’ll ask the state attorney general to look into the IDA’s decision granting tax breaks in 2014 to the mall’s owner, California-based Macerich.
The 10-year tax breaks are for a $79 million mall renovation and construction of Green Acres Commons, an adjacent shopping area. In exchange for property and sales tax breaks, Macerich agreed to make payments in lieu of taxes.
Those payments are $13.7 million annually for the first five years, and increasing to $14.5 million annually for the final five years. If the tax breaks are extended through 15 years, the payments rise to $17.8 million a year.
Solages, who sponsored the evening forum that drew about 200 people at Gateway Christian Center, said he wants to see a moratorium on all tax breaks by the IDA “until we find out what happened exactly” with the mall property.
Valley Stream residents saw school tax hikes ranging from 4.6 percent to 12.2 percent last fall. Taxpayers and elected officials have blamed the mall’s tax breaks, though IDA officials say other factors are at play, including school budgeting practices.
Two of Valley Stream’s school districts underestimated the funds they would receive from Macerich by nearly $3 million — an under-budgeting that was passed onto taxpayers. District officials say excess money would be returned to residents through a reduced tax levy for 2017-2018, though elected officials are looking into potential legislation.
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who spoke at the forum, is auditing the mall’s tax breaks and has subpoenaed IDA documents. His office, the IDA and Hempstead Town officials are due in court on Jan. 19.
Steven Lester, a Garden City attorney, said Thursday that Valley Stream taxpayers should protest the mall deal through their elected officials.
The IDA is holding a public meeting in Valley Stream on Jan. 19 to hear residents’ concerns.