Smithtown Town officials have drawn up plans to join Suffolk County in offering a tax break that would encourage business expansions, renovations and the filling of the area's many vacant properties.
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 for the first three years after construction. 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 program has been in place since 1996, but now towns have the ability to propose and map out the areas they wish to be targeted.
Smithtown's proposal creates three types of targeted areas to be offered the incentive plan: commercial areas, work and service industries and industrial areas.
The town is targeting the Smithtown, Kings Park, and St. James business districts and the neighborhood businesses along Smithtown Boulevard in Nesconset and Smithtown for commercial development. That includes much of Smithtown's beleaguered Main Street.
Town officials will encourage retail shops, real estate offices, professional and health care services, hotels and arts and entertainment by offering these tax breaks.
Areas along Route 25 in Smithtown between Route 111 and Terry Road are being proposed for wholesale and service development in efforts to court automotive shops and car dealerships, transportation-related companies, real estate offices, telecommunications services and administrative support companies.
The Hauppauge Industrial Park and small areas of Kings Park are being recommended for industrial development to attract utility companies, manufacturing, scientific and technical services as well as museum, historical sites, zoos and other common attractions.
"Hopefully within the next year the incentive will be in effect and available to people looking to move into town and have their business within town," said Allyson Murray, an engineer for the town's planning department.
The tax incentive proposition was supposed to go before the Suffolk County Legislature by the end of this year, according to Murray, but is not yet scheduled to be discussed at the remaining legislative session. Yet Murray said, despite the delays, she's sure the incentive will be offered.
"It's looking pretty good that it will be adopted early next year," Murray said.
If Smithtown's proposal is adopted, the tax incentive plan could bring change to many of the vacant buildings and storefront throughout the area towns.
In the past few months, Patch has asked its readers to take a look at these vacant buildings, many within the targeted proposal areas, for their suggestions on what kind of businesses readers would like to see move in.
Take a look at what has been suggested so far: