Laura Curran, the Democratic candidate for Nassau County executive, pushed Wednesday for reforms to improve the transparency and effectiveness of the county’s Industrial Development Agency — a day after her GOP opponent Jack Martins introduced his plan for the agency.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Martins, a former state senator, touted an endorsement from Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).
At a news conference in the parking lot of the Nassau Coliseum, Curran, a county legislator from Baldwin, said the IDA has “lost its way” and has become ineffective at creating good paying jobs. Since 2014, Curran said, it has granted tax incentives to nine self-storage facilities, which created only a handful of new jobs.
“We need to expand our tax base with real economic development,” Curran said. “We need to grow our economy by making smart decisions about retaining businesses that offer good jobs; by bringing in new businesses that can contribute to the county’s bottom line.”
Curran would require the IDA board, which is appointed by the county executive, to include individuals with experience in land use, finance and marketing and for the agency to produce a biannual public report card on its work.
She also would require the board to set public guidelines for the types of projects it will approve, including a minimum number of “quality” jobs that must be created, and allow the agency to claw back benefits if those goals are not met. Curran would push for the use of local union labor on all projects and require that residential projects include some affordable housing units.
Martins wants to require developers seeking IDA tax breaks to inform community leaders of their intentions during the permitting and zoning approval process; make developers that win tax breaks use local labor and institute a “comprehensive conflict of interest checklist” to ensure IDA staff and board members do not stand to gain from projects.
Nassau IDA executive director Joseph Kearney defended the agency’s work, saying that it has brought 25,000 new jobs to the county since 2010.
In backing Martins, Flanagan cited his work to repeal the MTA payroll tax, pass ethics reforms and bring in additional funding for Long Island schools. “I know what’s in his heart and I know what’s in his mind, and I can say with absolute confidence that Jack Martins is the right leader at the right time for Nassau County,” Flanagan said.
Curran held a fundraiser Tuesday with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) at the Laurel Hollow home of Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs.