Fly over Canon USA’s Melville headquarters to Tanger’s Arches outlet center in Deer Park and you’ll see both powerful and controversial examples of using tax breaks to spur economic development.
In Canon’s case, Suffolk County’s Industrial Development Agency engineered $30 million in tax breaks credited with relocating this sprawling corporate headquarters to a former pumpkin farm, and bringing more than a thousand jobs.
But when Babylon’s IDA extended tax breaks to Tanger’s Arches, critics questioned awarding additional tax benefits to a shopping mall, costing Deer Park’s schools hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
And now the man who led Babylon’s IDA in assisting the Arches project is poised to lead the Suffolk IDA – or was poised to do so, until Robert Stricoff ran into a political buzz saw.
Recently, Stricoff, who is also Babylon’s Democratic leader, was the subject of an audit finding he received unauthorized compensation from the party, a matter referred to the Suffolk DA by Suffolk Democratic leader Rich Schaffer. Schaffer, who is also Babylon’s Supervisor, urged Stricoff to turn down the IDA offer.
All this makes you wonder why Stricoff was ever chosen to lead the county’s IDA. Party leaders who raise campaign funds should not hold public positions that can offer tax benefits to businesses they might solicit.
Republican Suffolk Legislator John Kennedy says he will push for legislation to prevent town or county political party leaders from taking leadership jobs at Suffolk’s IDA. Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, a Democrat, agrees in principle. So do we.
Frankly, it just doesn’t look right.