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School District Gives Go Ahead to Smithtown Business Tax Incentive

Board members agree to allow the Town of Smithtown to implement the Suffolk County Industrial/Commercial Tax Incentive in the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

The Hauppauge Board of Education has agreed to go along with the in select areas, including the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

"In our opinion, any way to further strengthen our commercial tax base and increase the assessment is a positive one," said James Stucchio, assistant superintendent of business and operations.

Peter Johnson, Town of Smithtown's sole assessor, came before Hauppauge's Board of Education at their Nov. 15 meeting asking for their verbal agreement to go along with Smithtown's proposal to offer the Suffolk County Industrial/Commercial Incentive plan in the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

“This school district has the Hauppauge Industrial Park, which we consider the jewel of Smithtown. It is the largest industrial park in the country. Our goal is to maintain it to the benefit of residents,” Johnson said at the November meeting.

The Suffolk County Industrial/Commercial Incentive Plan provides a tax exemption for businesses who build or make improvements to their property that total at least $50,000. The tax exemption would be based on the assessment of the property's tax value after improvements are complete.

Businesses that take advantage of the plan would still pay existing taxes, but would receive cuts to the additional taxes caused by the improvements.

The plan would include a 50 percent tax exemption for eligible businesses. Each year, the businesses gradually pay 5 percent more in taxes until paying the full value of its property taxes after 10 years

This incentive plan would limit the ability of a school district to levy more taxes on commercial or industrial businesses who have an increased property value after expansion or renovation. As such, all districts in the Town of Smithtown can vote to not offer the incentive within their boundaries.

Johnson has said Hauppauge Public Schools verbal agreement to offer the incentive in the industrial park was crucial to making the incentive a success.

Trustee Susan Hodosky had requested more time to do further research on the Suffolk County Industrial/Commercial Incentive plan.

"There are no resolutions, anywhere in Suffolk County that the county is in any way benefiting beyond the individual companies in the industrial park," Hodosky said. "That’s what I was looking for - if we were going to take a hit on this alone."

However, one residents voiced his concern if the Town of Smithtown was too liberal giving out the incentive, it could hurt the school district.

"I giving this incentive brings one more business, but we give this tax break to 10 other business doing additional construction, is that an economic benefit to us in the future," a man asked.

Stucchio said the incentive for businesses or landlords doing renovations, such as the old Sears Roebuck building on Old Willets Path, would only receive the incentive tax break on the difference between the property's old assessed value and new assessment.

The tax incentive plan was initially scheduled to go before Suffolk County Legislature for approval by the end of 2011, but Smithtown town officials think it is more likely to be approved in early 2012.

If Smithtown's proposal is adopted, the tax incentive plan could bring change to many of the vacant buildings and storefront throughout the town.

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