State Sen. James Gaughran’s bill to block the Long Island Power Authority from collecting past year tax payments unanimously passed the New York State Senate Tuesday.
LIPA has warned the Town of Huntington and other municipalities that it could claim millions back in taxes it has paid over the last several years on the Northport power plant. The authority is challenging the assessment on the plant, and the lawsuit is in pending in court with the case to continue in July.
In a letter issued to town residents in April, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci warned,”If the Town were to lose these cases, it would owe hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds to LIPA/National Grid, which would be proportionately shared by every homeowner in the Town of Huntington. For a home with an average assessment, this could mean a one-time payment of well in excess of $5,000. In addition, taxes for residents of the Northport-East Northport School District would immediately go up by several thousand dollars. “
The Northport school district gets about $54 million from the annual $82 million LIPA payment.
Gaughran said, “LIPA is a runaway authority that is not acting in the best interests of ratepayers. Their reckless tax certiorari lawsuits are a threat to communities across the region and my bill will provide a vital protection to Long Island taxpayers. LIPA has used the threat of collecting back taxes on its power plants to bully communities into silence and to persuade local government officials into settling these lawsuits. That stops now.”
Assemb. Steve Stern, D-Dix Hills, filed a similar bill Tuesday in the State Assembly.
This bill will provide a critical protection to taxpayers, school districts, and local municipalities, all of whom are under siege from LIPA’s tax certiorari challenges.
Lupinacci said “Thanks to the Senate’s passage of Senator Gaughran’s bill, taxpayers of the Town of Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School District are one step closer to having the protection of the state against a potentially devastating judgment and I hope the Assembly can pass this measure so that the Governor can sign it and I urge him to do so.”
The town assesses the value of the plant at $3.4 billion while LIPA said its assessed value is $198 million.