Jon Kaiman, shown in 2023, is a former deputy county executive for...

Jon Kaiman, shown in 2023, is a former deputy county executive for Suffolk a former North Hempstead supervisor. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Jon Kaiman, recently confirmed by the State Senate as commissioner for the state Tax Appeals Tribunal, is seeking an ethics ruling to determine whether he can also maintain a position as executive vice president and general counsel for a Hauppauge-based electronics company.

Kaiman, a former deputy county executive for Suffolk County under former Executive Steve Bellone and a former North Hempstead supervisor, said he will await the determination of the state Ethics Commission on his work for Orbic Electronics Manufacturing. His nomination was presented by Gov. Kathy Hochul and approved by the Senate last week.

Kaiman in an interview last week said his priority will be on his position as commissioner of the state tax tribunal. He said it would be “nice to continue to play some role” at Orbic, where his responsibilities are primarily in-house counsel, but “I’ve got to see what the Ethics Commission says.”

Commissioners get nine-year terms to the tribunal, whose mission is to “resolve controversies” with the state Division of Taxation of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Kevin Cahill, a current Hochul appointee to the tribunal, and a former state assemblyman, receives an annual salary of $170,000 as a commissioner. State law says each commissioner “shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office.”

Kaiman said his experience as former Nassau County District Court judge prepared him for the tax tribunal role.

“I’m a former judge so this is a way for that to be a part of my role in government,” said Kaiman, who also served as special adviser to former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “It’s an important role, administering [tax] rules and regulations. I think it’s right up my alley."

As Newsday has reported, Orbic has received $10 million in state tax breaks to bring manufacturing of its products, including cellphones and other electronics, from China to Hauppauge. It has plans to build as many as four manufacturing facilities in Suffolk, starting with a 60,000-square-foot location in Hauppauge, and hire more than 1,000 workers. Research and development is done in India. 

The company in December submitted an application for tax breaks to the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, filed by former Suffolk District Attorney Tim Sini, who is now outside counsel to Orbic from his firm, Nixon Peabody. Called Project Patriot, the company said its plan is to bring mission-critical manufacturing and assembly operations currently undertaken overseas in India and China by a New York State-headquartered company back to the United States — and specifically back to Hauppauge. The first leg of the project is a $30 million facility retrofit.

“Absent IDA assistance, we would seek to locate the company in an alternate state or maintain manufacturing and assembly overseas,” Orbic wrote to the IDA in December. 

In January, the Suffolk County IDA gave Orbic final approval for $2 million in tax breaks,  including $907,200 in property-tax savings over 20 years, or a 35% savings.

The aid is in return for Orbic’s pledge to create 503 jobs in two years at factory and office at 555 Wireless Blvd. in Hauppauge. The company is investing $30.1 million in the project, which is to be completed by March.

With Yancey Roy and James T. Madore

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