IDA drops Bristal tax break application

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The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency staff has decided to withdraw an application to the IDA board of directors for an extension of tax breaks for three Bristal assisted living facilities, including the Bristal facility in North Hills.

The Engel Burman Group, which manages the Bristal, had sought an extension of existing agreements with the county IDA for payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOTs. 

The application had drawn criticism from a chorus of elected officials and school district administrators, who said the extension of the tax breaks were not justified since the Bristal facilities were not expanding or adding new employees.

“There’s no perceptible benefit either way that would warrant the board to grant the relief as presented,” said Joseph Kearney, IDA executive director. “Fiscal impact versus the economic benefit, there is no tipping of the scale in either direction. It’s a neutral application.”

Kearney said the application could be revised and submitted again but said, “In its present form, this application is not going anywhere.”

The Bristal in North Hills was seeking a 10-year extension of an existing 10-year PILOT agreement, which is in its seventh year. The current agreement is an extension of the PILOT agreement granted by the IDA when the Bristal in North Hills was first constructed.   

The application for the extension had been slated for IDA meetings on Dec. 3 and 13 that were both cancelled. 

Officials who opposed the application were pleased with the IDA staff’s decision.

“I would like to think that because of the rational arguments against it, it was something that they were uncomfortable doing,” said Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck).

But Bosworth said she wasn’t assuming the IDA staff’s decision put an end to the issue since the Bristal application could be revised and resubmitted.

Village of North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss said extension of the tax breaks would have cost the village i$2 million to $3 million in tax revenues over 10 years.

“It wasn’t a meretorious application to begin with,” Natiss said. “When they first came in, they were creating jobs and they were erecting a building. Now that facility is in existence, they’re full and they’re making a lot of money there.”

Promising no expansion of the existing North Hills facility, the Engel Burman Group’s application reportedly pledged to retain 81 employees at the facility which currently employs a staff of 87 people.

Both Bosworth and Natiss said they think the criticism voiced against the application by public officials was a factor in the IDA staff’s decision to not present the application to its board.  

“I would imagine that when there was really strong opposition to something, it required them to take a good second look,” Bosworth said.

Herricks Superintendent of Schools John Bierwirth said the proposed agreement had “no additional development and no new jobs. They were just looking for a [tax] break.”

He said granting the PILOT would have cost both the Herricks and Great Neck School Districts about equally in lost tax revenues. The property of the Bristal in North Hills straddles the line between the two school districts. Bierwirth estimated the Herricks district would have lost upwards of $200,000 if the existing agreement was extended.

Efforts to seek a comment from the Engel Burman Group on the IDA’s decision to drop the application were unavailing.

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