Updated: LIPA Rejects Pause on Northport Plant Tax Litigation

The Town of Huntington said Thursday that its request for a pause in litigation over Northport power plant taxes was rejected by the Long Island Power Authority.

In a letter dated Wednesday, the town and the Northport-East Northport School District had requested the pause because of  the extreme disruption the novel-coronavirus  has had and will continue to have on the town’s residents. LIPA rejected the letter Thursday.  (See letters below)

“It’s astonishing LIPA does not recognize that this global health crisis and its severe and unprecedented economic impact necessitates a change in posture,” said Town Attorney Nicholas Ciappetta, who wrote the letter asking for a delay in “any proceedings pending before the New York State Supreme Court and the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division” until at least July 1, 2022.

For its part, LIPA cited its arguments for why taxes should be reduced, and state mandates that 70 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2030, responding, “The present course of ever-higher taxes on the Northport Power Station cannot be sustained, even for another two years. It is time to begin the gradual transition towards a more sustainable future offered to you by the proposed settlement agreement.”

Updated: State Sen. James Gaughran said, ““Our nation faces the most devastating health crisis in a generation and Governor Cuomo has put New York State on ‘PAUSE,’ yet LIPA has refused common sense requests to ‘PAUSE’ their reckless tax challenges amid a global public health pandemic. LIPA’s irresponsibility and self-serving motives now not only jeopardize entire municipalities — who are on the frontlines of this crisis providing vital public health and senior care services — but stands in stark contrast to the intent of Chief Justice DiFiore’s order limiting court activity to essential functions such as orders of protection and landlord lockouts. LIPA’s shameless actions have reached an all-time low — LIPA is using a global health pandemic to bully the Town of Huntington into bending to LIPA’s demands, while the Town faces an unprecedented fiscal threat. The entire state may be on hold, but nothing will stop LIPA from lining their pockets, not even the deadliest health crisis our nation has seen in a generation.”

 

Citing the pandemic’s impact on the economy, the loss of tax revenues to all levels of government and educational agencies, and the severe consequences of such stretching into at least 2022, Ciappetta argued:

“While this parade of horribles will be visited upon every school district in the State of New York, the Northport-East Northport School District faces an added threat in the pending tax certiorari litigation that hangs over its head like the proverbial sword of Damocles. While it will be extremely difficult for the School District to sustain its programs and staffing in response the loss of state aid due to the pandemic, it would be impossible for the School District to simultaneously adjust to an unfavorable decision from the Supreme Court, or even the most favorable settlement agreement. In blunt terms, the combination of two such extraordinary events would leave the School District unrecognizable in the short term and devastated for years to come.”

Ciappetta also wrote, “Lastly, it is important to note that LIPA is a corporate municipal entity of the State of New York under New York Public Authorities Law § 1020(c). Public entities such as LIPA have a unique civic responsibility that set them apart from corporate entities and a moral obligation to avoid acts that would devastate communities such as the Northport-East Northport School District and the Town of Huntington. A court ordered judgment or settlement resulting in a substantial tax increase in the midst of a global public health crisis would simply be unconscionable.”

LIPA is challenging the town’s tax bill of $82 million, saying that the Northport plant is over-assessed, saying it is worth $198 million, not $3.4 billion that the town claims. A significant cut in taxes on the plan would hit the Northport-East Northport school district hard, though homeowners throughout Huntington could feel the impact. The plant is owned by National Grid, which sells power to LIPA.

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As LIPA Ruling Nears, Foes Find Ways to Keep Fighting

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