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Long IslandTowns

Brookhaven considers barring political leaders from serving on two town committees

Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo.

Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

Brookhaven officials are considering a proposal to bar political leaders from serving on a pair of committees charged with awarding millions of dollars worth of tax breaks to local businesses.

A resolution drafted by Councilman Dan Panico would preclude members of the Industrial Development Agency and Local Development Corp. from serving on the executive committees that steer political parties.

The IDA and LDC -- whose seven unpaid members serve on both boards -- consider applications from businesses seeking incentives such as tax-free bonds to build or expand facilities. Members are appointed by the town board.

In the past year, the LDC approved a total of $64 million in tax breaks for expansions at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.

Panico, a Republican, said the resolution would prevent party chiefs from having direct influence over tax breaks. "We don't have a problem in this town, but we need to raise the bar," he said in an interview.

In a statement, Panico said no current IDA or LDC members serve as party leaders.

The town ethics code currently bans elected officials, appointed members of several town committees and bingo inspectors from serving on town, county, state or national political party executive committees.

The town board has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for 6:30 p.m. July 15 at Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville.

Lisa Mulligan, chief executive of the IDA and LDC, favors the measure. "It raises the bar, raises us up to a higher standard, which I think is a positive thing," she said.

With Deon J. Hampton

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