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Opinion

EDITORIAL: Hempstead IDA is acting recklessly

Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall called it "taxation without representation," but it's really giving tax breaks without representation.

The Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency ignored protests led by Hall and Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury) and approved a 10-year tax abatement for a developer planning a renovation at 590-600 Fulton Avenue, thus further eroding the village's diminishing tax base.

The IDA claims the developer will invest millions of dollars and create eight permanent jobs, but this isn't the first time that the agency has acted against a locality's wishes. Two years ago, Garden City took the same IDA to court in an attempt to block another generous tax break benefiting a developer who planned to buy and renovate the ritzy Garden City Hotel. The agency did so despite the objections of the village and the Garden City school district.

Given this sorry history, it's no wonder that IDA reform has become such a hot subject in Albany. Among the changes being debated are requirements that IDA boards better represent the communities they serve, and that they calculate the value of tax breaks granted in terms of jobs created. At the very least, the state should forbid IDAs to grant abatements without the approval of municipalities affected.

Using tax breaks to generate jobs is a useful idea, but not when an IDA bestows benefits so capriciously. hN

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