The Northport-East Northport school board voted Monday night to accept a settlement with the Long Island Power Authority that would significantly reduce LIPA’s tax bill but avert the threat of having to refund years of back taxes if the utility prevails in court.
On a 6-1 vote, with board president David Badanes voting no, trustees repeatedly expressed unhappiness with the utility but also cited the danger of losing the tax case in court, where LIPA has been fighting the assessment on the Northport power plant for nearly 10 years.
While a judge’s decision is pending, LIPA is claiming the right to collect more than $800 million in back taxes. It is up to the Town Board to approve or disapprove the settlement. The board meets Tuesday night, and Councilman Eugene Cook is planning to offer a resolution to schedule a public forum in September on the tax case.
School and other officials have said that LIPA wants a decision by Aug. 11. Cook and Councilman Edmund Smyth have both expressed opposition to a settlement, leaving the fate of the settlement in the hands of Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, a Republican, and Democratic Council members Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol.
The school board voted after listening to attorney John Gross explain the case one more time, compare it to a utility case in Rockland county, and listening to questions from people who emailed in questions or statements over a Zoom connection. Several people complained about lack of public input throughout the process but a plurality who wrote in seemed in favor of the settlement.
This story will update.