Response To Newsday's IDA Live Streaming Story
With respect to James Madore's Aug. 28 story, "Cuomo signs law requiring live streaming of IDA meetings," the mistakes contained in the article require correction.
The Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency has no objection to the new law, but we do take exception to the story's characterization that the IDA's 2015 approval of PILOT programs for Green Acres Mall and Green Acres Commons in Valley Steam was a valid cause for the law's enactment. Of greater significance, we object to assertion that "'one of the affected school districts miscalculated the impact of the tax breaks, leading to a one-year spike in property taxes for homeowners in 2016-17."
As has been noted repeatedly by Newsday in the past, the Office of the New York State Comptroller found that Town of Hempstead IDA acted lawfully and prudently when it provided economic development incentives to Green Acres. The audit found that the cause of tax increases in Valley Stream School District 30 was the result of the school district's actions. The school district, regrettably, engaged in a scheme that failed use the PILOT moneys to reduce taxes and placed the PILOT moneys, improperly, in an unrelated fund, not used to reduce taxes.
State Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, who sponsored the live streaming bill in their respective houses, have used these PILOTS agreements for political opportunism, ignoring the findings of the State Comptroller's audit.Live streaming of the IDA meeting would not have prevented the school district from acting improperly
Most governmental bodies at the state and local level, including IDAs, schedule meetings and public hearings during the working day. Yet, it is only the IDAs that have been singled out. Notices in the Green Acres project were properly served, but were ignored by the school district, just as the school district ignored its obligation to apply the PILOT payments to reduce taxes.
Even so, this agency is fully mindful of the need for transparency in its activities and we support efforts to increase that transparency, including live streaming of IDA meetings and public hearings. The more the public learns about what we do, the better it is for "good government."
CEO, Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency