A prominent Manhattan lobbying firm has registered with Nassau County to work for Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, which got tax breaks from the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency that sparked complaints from residents and elected officials.
Kasirer LLC filed with the county to represent Macerich, the mall’s California-based owners, on Nov. 3, about 18 months after Nassau began requiring companies with county business to disclose their lobbyists, and not long after the tax breaks became public knowledge.
The firm, which has worked with Macerich on other matters since 2010, said it expected to lobby the county executive and comptroller, the county legislature and police department and Hempstead’s town board and supervisor on real estate issues.
In a report submitted to Nassau last month, Kasirer disclosed that it had earned $88,004 in 2016 for its local efforts. The firm, which has worked for numerous large real estate developers in New York City, ranked second on the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ list of top-earning lobbyists in 2015, with $9.2 million in total compensation.
“We have been engaged in conversations to ensure that the public and local elected officials understand that our [Green Acres] project creates 670 construction jobs, more than 800 permanent jobs, and significant local sales tax revenue,” Macerich senior vice president Ken Volk said in a statement. “As part of that we have engaged our longtime government relations team to assist.”
The controversy over the IDA tax breaks began in October, when residents of Valley Stream and nearby communities began noticing sharp increases in their property tax bills that they blamed on the mall.
In an effort to support a $79 million mall renovation and the development of an adjacent shopping center, the IDA in December 2014 agreed to remove the mall from local property tax rolls. The agency also accepted a reduced payment in lieu of taxes, and exempted the mall from some sales taxes.
Taxpayers in Valley Stream school districts saw property tax increases averaging between $322 and $758, with some residents reporting hikes of $1,000 or more. Many town and county officials say mall tax breaks shifted the burden to residents, although IDA officials have attributed part of the increases to faulty budgeting by school districts.
The IDA members who approved Green Acres’ tax breaks resigned under pressure from the Hempstead Town Board, and new members are considering whether to revoke the benefit. Such a move could bring litigation from Macerich, which has nearly completed the renovation and expansion.