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Islip Town board vote tonight on Heartland tax break

Jerry Wolkoff, developer of Heartland Town Center, on

Jerry Wolkoff, developer of Heartland Town Center, on the site. In August 2012, Wolkoff and Islip Town were embroiled in contentious negotiations over the renewal of an agreement for payment in lieu of taxes on the $4 billion Heartland project in Brentwood. Credit: Newsday, 2010 / Audrey C. Tiernan

The Islip Town board is set to vote Tuesday night on the extension of a 10-year tax break for the $4 billion, long-stalled Heartland development in Brentwood.

Under the agreement, developer Gerald Wolkoff would pay $1.65 million in taxes annually through 2017, with the annual bill increasing to $1.66 million for the final five years, until 2022.

Wolkoff said Monday that he was “tied up” and couldn’t talk. Brentwood Union Free School District officials could not be reached for comment Monday; the school system was closed due to the blizzard.

Wolkoff, who purchased the 450-acre property from the state for $20 million in 2002 with plans to build 9,000 apartments and an entertainment district, would have paid $3.3 million in property taxes last year under the property’s assessment of $109 million. Last year he paid $1.6 million under the 10-year PILOT, which expired earlier this year.

Wolkoff has argued the PILOT doesn’t represent a tax break because the assessment is vastly inflated and he has threatened to fight in court.

Bill Mannix, executive director for Islip Town’s Industrial Development Agency, which administers PILOT agreements, said Monday that he would recommend the town board approve the agreement.

“That’s the risk that we didn’t want to take and now with the support of the school district, they didn’t want to take,” Mannix said. “We’re providing that certainty for that taxing jurisdiction that they’re going to get their money regardless of any certoriari action that the developer takes on the property.”

The property — the site of the former Pilgrim State Hospital — has sat undeveloped since Wolkoff purchased it, mired in delays due to disagreements over traffic mitigation and the use of union workers.

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