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Town of Huntington, NY - News Details

6/11/2019 - [VIDEO] Huntington, Northport-East Northport School District, Suffolk & Nassau Officials Call on Governor Cuomo to Reign in Runaway State Agency LIPA

Northport – Officials from the Town of Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School District  were joined by officials from Suffolk County, Island Park Public Schools, North Shore Central School District and over approximately 100 residents at the Northport Cow Harbor Soccer Field, with the Northport Power Plant smoke stacks looming above in the fog, in the pouring rain to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to intervene and reign in LIPA, the runaway State agency, whose lawsuits against the municipalities and school districts threaten the very way of life for residents, taxpayers and students, and to warn all Long Island communities that LIPA is coming for them next.

The press conference exposed LIPA’s unbridled ambition to extend its financial attack on all Long Island communities, over 100 school districts and thousands of students, and urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to enact protections for the Town of Huntington and communities across Long Island facing potentially financially-devastating adverse judgments in LIPA/National Grid tax certiorari challenge lawsuits.


Representing the Town of Huntington were Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman Eugene Cook, Councilwoman Joan Cergol, and Councilman Edmund J.M. Smyth, joined by Town Attorney Nicholas Ciappetta and Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman.


Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci spoke on behalf of the Town Board, united in their fight to protect the interests of taxpayers, residents and students across all of the Town of Huntington:


“The monstrous and unsightly power plant behind us sits in the middle of beautiful waterfront Northport where it ruins the view for our residents and visitors. It was decided decades ago that the residents of Northport and the Town of Huntington would incur all of the negatives and drawbacks of a massive, industrial power plant; like the one behind us, in exchange for the increase to our tax base for the entire Town of Huntington and for the Northport-East Northport School District. This tax revenue was accounted for and spent over the past two decades to provide services to our residents and educate our students.


“This runaway State agency – a public utility with unlimited resources – has come after the Town of Huntington and we are fighting back with everything we have. LIPA refuses to negotiate. They have also engaged in a public disinformation campaign and spent the public’s money on advertising, pitting community against community. They paint the Town of Huntington as unreasonable when it is the Town that has offered LIPA several settlement proposals, all of which would save them in excess of $130 million in school taxes and over $210 million in total taxes over the course of the settlement term. LIPA stubbornly refuses to make a counteroffer and have never lowered their demands since I took office in January 2018. It is LIPA, not the Town of Huntington that is negotiating in bad faith -- The Town of Huntington cannot negotiate against itself!


“LIPA is now threatening to grieve the taxes on all of the property that it owns, where its transmission and distribution equipment is installed across Long Island. These challenges will affect every school district and every municipality on Long Island.


“On behalf of the Town Board, I am calling on Governor Cuomo to intervene. When I was an Assemblyman, Governor Cuomo and I worked on bipartisan measures yet when it has come to LIPA he has not been willing to meet with me to discuss this threat facing our community. I appeal to the Governor to meet with me to discuss a resolution to this lawsuit that could have such disastrous ramifications for Huntington and all of Suffolk County. Governor Cuomo is the one person who has the power to stop LIPA – a runaway State agency – from continuing their attacks on our way of life. Governor Cuomo, on behalf of the Town Board and over 200,000 residents of the Town of Huntington, plus the millions across Long Island who face similarly financially devastating consequences, protect your residents and reign in this runaway State agency: stop LIPA now!”

Superintendent Robert Banzer, School Board President Andrew Rapiejko, School Board Vice President David Stein, and Trustees David Badanes, Victoria Buscareno, Lori McCue, Donna McNaughton, and Allison Noonan represented the Northport-East Northport School District.


Superintendent Robert Banzer spoke on behalf of the School District, who also called for the abolishment of LIPA:  "Now we face LIPA’s attempt to impose financial devastation to our district and school districts across Long Island. The damage that LIPA would impose on the staff, students and community of our District will make our schools unrecognizable. It should be noted that this financial threat is no longer contained to just a few school districts who host power plants. In January, LIPA announced that they would be seeking further reductions to the $289 million dollars of assessments to the 185 substations across Long Island thus creating a shortfall for school districts and communities island-wide. The district is calling on Governor Cuomo to put education first and stop LIPA from devastating our schools and communities across Long Island."


Representing Suffolk County were Comptroller John Kennedy, Legislator Robert Trotta, who represents part of the Northport-East Northport School District, and representing County Executive Steve Bellone was Lisa Broughton, Energy Director, Suffolk County Department of Public Works.


Comptroller John Kennedy spoke on behalf of the County, outlining the county’s dire fiscal situation and the impact an adverse judgment would have on all Suffolk County residents: “I’m a bit limited in what I can speak about today because, through my office, I am currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit against LIPA but what I can say is this – a report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office in September said Suffolk was under the most severe ‘fiscal stress’ of any county in the state, in terms of fund balances, cash on hand, short-term borrowing and other issues. The reason I bring this up is because the numbers we are talking about today are astronomical and based on our current fiscal situation, I’m not even sure we would have the ability to go into the market to raise the funds necessary to cover this potential burden. So, I’m here today to call on LIPA to come to the table. Work with our local elected officials to come to a reasonable agreement that will be fair and equitable to all. We simply can’t afford anything less.”


Also in attendance from Island Park Public Schools were Jack Vobis, President, Board of Education and Lauren Schnitzer, Counsel for the District; Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo and School Board Trustees from North Shore Central School District; New York State Assemblyman Andrew Raia was represented by staff member Barbara Hanna, the Assemblyman was travelling to Albany for the session resuming Tuesday, June 11; the Village of Northport was represented by Mayor Damon McMullen and Village Trustees.


Over 100 residents – taxpayers, parents, and students – came out to attend the press conference on the soggy soccer field in the driving rain, holding signs calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to “Stop LIPA Now.” After the press conference ended, the community members chanted “Stop LIPA now.”

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