Huntington – Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci has released a statement on the LIPA tax certiorari lawsuit, currently in litigation before the Supreme Court in the State of New York, County of Suffolk:
“Protecting the Town of Huntington’s taxpayers and students in the Northport-East Northport School District has been and continues to be my number one priority in the Town's handling of the LIPA lawsuit since taking office as Supervisor on January 1st, 2018.
“In 1997, LIPA and LILCO negotiated and signed a Power Supply Agreement. In the Agreement, LIPA and LILCO committed to maintaining the amount of property taxes they were paying and never challenging the tax assessment on the Northport Power Plant unless the Town unreasonably raised the assessment – this language was in the actual contract, making the Town of Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School District third-party beneficiaries to that contract. This contractual promise to the Town and the School District was also communicated to the public by former Governor George Pataki and LIPA’s then-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Kessel through other documentation prepared by LIPA and submitted to the IRS and other government agencies.
“LIPA and LILCO (and its successor National Grid, who currently owns the Northport Power Plant) honored the agreement and their commitment for 13 years.
“Unfortunately, in 2010, National Grid and LIPA reneged on the Agreement and their commitment to the taxpayers of our Town and the Northport-East Northport School District by challenging the tax assessment on the Northport Power Plant, demanding that the assessment be reduced by 90%. If they are successful in court, they are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in retroactive tax refunds.
“Since 1997, the Town of Huntington, the Northport-East Northport School District, residents and business owners have relied on the commitment made in the Agreement and promises communicated to the public by LIPA officials and public officials. Business owners have invested in our community and residents have purchased and improved homes, deciding to raise families here, based on the benefits this contractual agreement bestowed upon the community and its School District. Let us not forget: there are costs to a community for hosting such a facility – aesthetic, environmental and the unknown impact on our residents’ health, critical factors that must be considered when evaluating the outcome of this case.
“The Town honored its commitment, never unreasonably raising the assessment on the Northport Power Plant property. In fact, the Town never raised the tax assessment at all, even when National Grid made capital improvements to the plant, which would have justified an increase.
“If granted by the court, the massive reduction in the tax assessment and retroactive tax refunds would be devastating to Huntington taxpayers. The Northport-East Northport School District would have to make drastic cuts to educational programs – from athletics to the arts – and staffing, significantly damaging academic and scholarship opportunities for our students.
“The Town has been vigorously fighting this case in court and we are fighting for you. We will continue to use all legal options at our disposal to ensure LIPA and National Grid honor their contractual promise. If it is not possible to achieve an outcome that is beneficial to the taxpayers of the Town of Huntington and our students, I am prepared to take the case to trial and win.”