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Officials, Residents Unite Against Bristal Tax Exemption

Assisted living facility applies to extend its tax abatement PILOT for additional decade

Numerous local elected and appointed officials flanked Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro on Wednesday, Nov. 14 as he asked residents to express disapproval for The Bristal Assisted Living facility’s tax abatement application, which Cavallaro said could cost Westbury, Old Westbury and New Cassel taxpayers and municipalities an estimated $7 million over the next 10 years if approved.

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) will be reviewing The Bristal’s application to extend its Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement for another 10 years. Cavallaro said The Bristal (117 Post Ave.) signed its original PILOT in 1999 when its owners first opened the facility and that a revision was made to the original PILOT in 2005, which the village opposed but the IDA approved. This most recent application marks the third time The Bristal has requested tax abatement. 

“The reason behind that program is a good one – it’s basically to allow people to come in and take a piece of property, develop it for the economic benefit of the community and get a tax benefit for doing it. It’s a standard practice that is done all over the country,” Cavallaro said, noting that The Bristal is a beautiful building and is an attribute to the village.

But if The Bristal’s new PILOT agreement is approved, Cavallaro noted, “Every tax dollar they don’t pay, every one of us pays” and said the Westbury School District would lose “about half a million dollars a year” over the next decade.

“This is why we have a unanimous group of all of your elected officials and all of your appointed officials who are saying that this is not right, it’s really abusive and it’s really not the intent of what an IDA program was really meant to do,” Cavallaro added.

The mayor and village employees were joined by elected and appointed members of the Westbury School District, the Westbury Water District, the Westbury Memorial Public Library, the Town of North Hempstead and Nassau County Legislature.

“If we don’t show the IDA that we care, why should they care? This is an unprecedented meeting in my 40 years of living in Westbury. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen bipartisan opposition from all levels of government to anything proposed by anyone in this community,” said Nassau County Legislator Robert Troiano, who noted that the IDA is an independent agency with members appointed by the county executive, though the legislature does approve the appointees.

“Every one of you will pay more in taxes because they are paying less. In this day and age, that’s outrageous. If we mobilize, if they get enough opposition and they see a unified front, this done deal can be undone,” Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello said.

Residents were advised at the meeting to sign a prewritten letter to the IDA board voicing disapproval for the PILOT application and to attend a public hearing scheduled for Nov. 19 at village hall. According to the letter, Westbury has the highest tax rate in the Town of North Hempstead.

“We don’t think frankly our opposition alone as elected officials is necessarily enough to defeat it. So that means we need voices of our residents, of our taxpayers, to add to our collective voices and say that the community is opposed to this type of abusive practice. Years of a property not being assessed at full value and taking money out of the taxpayer’s pockets is not right,” Cavallaro added.

Attendees were also advised to attend an IDA meeting on Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. at the Nassau County Legislative Building at 1550 Franklin Ave. in Mineola.

Mayor Cavallaro can be reached at (516) 334-1700. Legislator Troiano’s office number is (516) 571-6202. The village’s website (www.villageofwestbury.org) and Facebook page will offer updates on the PILOT developments.

“Tell your friends and neighbors that their pockets are going to be picked if we don’t show up to beat this proposal. For 10 years, we will be subsidizing a private business long after they should’ve been subsidized,” Cavallaro said.

Mayor Cavallaro said that no representatives from The Bristal were invited to the meeting. A call to The Bristal following the meeting was returned by Steven Krieger, principal at The Engel Burman Group, whose properties include The Bristal Assisted Living facilities. Krieger told The Westbury Times, having not been present at the meeting, he could not comment.