Some Suffolk legislators say IDA should rescind tax breaks for new Amazon warehouse

Some Suffolk County legislators and other officials voiced their opposition to a tax break for a proposed Amazon warehouse on county-owned land in Westhampton Beach near Gabreski Airport.
In October, the board of the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency gave preliminary approval for $2.3 million in tax breaks to Rechler Equity Partners, the developer behind the warehouse.
The incentives also include a 53% reduction in property taxes.
Legislator Robert Trotta called the decision “unconscionable” and called for it to be immediately rescinded. He also said Amazon was “fraudulent” on its IDA application.
Legislator Anthony Piccirillo said the tax break pushes the tax burden “on to middle class and working families throughout Suffolk County.”
Christopher McNamara, president of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, insisted that Amazon doesn’t need the tax break.
“$2.3 million is a drop in the bucket to them, but to Suffolk County and to the taxpayers of the county, we need it,” he said.
Trotta and his supporters say they also are calling for rescinded tax breaks because Amazon directly competes with small businesses, many of whom are struggling because of the pandemic.
"We need to give these people tax relief on Main Street. Amazon doesn't need it, small business needs it,” said Piccirillo.
Suffolk’s IDA responded in part: "This County-owned property does not generate any tax revenue until it is developed and the only way to increase tax revenue is by making the investments to attract successful companies."
Full statement from Gregg Rechler, co-managing partner of Rechler Equity Partners:
The actions taken by the Suffolk IDA to support our application are another step in fulfilling our agreement to create a successful hub for businesses that grows the East End's economy and generates both tax revenue and employment opportunities. Our partnership with the County and the Town of Southampton to develop 50 acres of land at Gabreski airport, now known as the Hampton Business District, began in 2009 with approval of the full legislature. All parties were enthusiastic about the agreement because of the boundless opportunities developing this unused property presented.
The tax benefits received for 245 Roger’s Way stem from that original 2009 agreement and are identical to what was received for the three other buildings already constructed at the HBD. Those buildings are now home to companies such as Tate’s Cookies, AC Electric, Carrier Enterprises, ADS Management and Westhampton Beach Brewery.
Full statement from Tony Catapano, executive director of the Suffolk County IDA:
Every transaction approved by the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency undergoes a thorough review and an independent vote by the board of directors to ensure the agreement provides the best possible outcome for Suffolk County's economy and its residents. The transaction with Rechler Equity Partners at the Hampton Business District is no different.
In 2009, Suffolk County and Recher Equity Partners entered into an agreement to develop the county-owned land at Gabreski airport to grow the East End's economy. As part of this agreement, IDA benefits were made available through Rechler to businesses as tenants who establish themselves at the Hampton Business District. The recent transaction with Rechler Equity Partners for their tenant, Amazon, stems from this original agreement.
Amazon’s online platform allows small businesses the ability to sell their products to a greater network of customers. Not only do local businesses, such as Koala Optics, benefit from selling their products on Amazon, but so does the local workforce through the creation of more than 50 full-time jobs and more than a 100 new opportunities for local residents serving as independent businesses by being their own bosses while delivering packages for Amazon. Unfortunately, while most downtown merchants are retail businesses and are legally prohibited from IDA assistance, the Suffolk IDA has found ways to assist our local downtowns through studies and projects such as Launch Pad Huntington, boutique hotels and multi-family housing that boosts customers for downtown businesses.
This County-owned property does not generate any tax revenue until it is developed and the only way to increase tax revenue is by making the investments to attract successful companies. The fact that Rechler was able to land a blue chip, high growth tenant, such as Amazon, should be viewed as yet another grand success in this development's progress.