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Cantor: LIPA and Long Island's economy not perfect together.

Byline: Commentary

In Long Island's version of David versus Goliath, residents of the Northport-East Northport School District have joined together to fight the latest bully on the block - the Long Island Power Authority, in its effort to significantly reduce the assessment on its' Northport power plant. If successful, the reduction would have a devastating impact on education budgets at Northport-East Northport Schools.

Make no mistake, if LIPA succeeds in its court challenge of the Town of Huntington's $3.4 billion assessment, which seeks to reduce the assessment on its Northport Power Plant to as low as $198 million, there will be a significant economic impact on the Northport community, where higher property taxes will reduce the market value on their homes and increase their monthly costs.

The residents of Northport are not alone in their fight against LIPA. So is the Town of Huntington as it fights LIPA's assessment court challenge to lower its $84 million annual property taxes. This all-or-nothing gamble is risky since LIPA has offered to settle the assessment issue if the Town of Huntington would lower the $84 million of property taxes over nine years to $42 million. To date, the Town of Huntington has not accepted the offer.

While LIPA challenges its assessment in court, a proposal by state Senator James Gaughran (D-Northport) would provide upwards of $70 million to any state entity, including school districts, to offset any large property tax increases resulting from court awarded assessment challenges. However, Gaughran's bill is a one-time financial band-aid for the problem and doesn't have a sponsor in the state Assembly. It is also uncertain whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo will consider the legislation even if it passes the Senate and Assembly.

There are whispers in the community that they believe that Cuomo's renewable energy directive that, by 2030, 50 percent of New York's power will be from renewable energy sources will be funded on the backs of Northport-East Northport taxpayers and other Long Islanders. LIPA is challenging assessments of its Island Park and Glenwood Landing power plants, as well. If successful, what is to prevent LIPA from challenging the millions of dollars in property taxes on substations and transmission lines?

LIPA is a state agency and clearly Cuomo can play an important role in ensuring that the transition to renewable energy should not adversely impact the household budgets of Long Islanders. Long Island is already a very expensive place to live and shouldn't be made more expensive by LIPA's actions.

Martin Cantor is director of the Long Island Center for Socio-Economic Policy and a former Suffolk County economic development commissioner.

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Publication:Long Island Business News
Date:Apr 26, 2019
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