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Monday, November 24, 2014
LIPA seeks to cut tax payments to local schools
(Page 2 of 2)
Christina Daly/Herald
The Barrett Power Plant, in Island Park, provides nearly half of the tax levy money available to the Island Park schools.

“We are working with counsel, and have reviewed LIPA’s offer,” Frontario said. “We look at that offer as a starting point for negotiations. The expiration date set by the utility is an arbitrary date, and we don’t look at it as a drop-dead date. There is no panic in Oceanside, and we’re taking it one day at a time. We would hope that we can get LIPA to be more generous in its next offer.”

Frontario acknowledged, however, that the tax question is problematic. “If the Class 3 tax levy is significantly reduced, then the money has to be made up in one of the other classes, commercial or residential,” he said. “That remains to be seen, and it is liable to be a long negotiation.”

“We got involved in the negotiations more than a year ago, and in the negotiations with the county more recently,” said attorney Robert Cohen, who represents Island Park in the lawsuit. “This is early in the court process, but we are taking LIPA’s demands seriously. There will be a discovery process and then a lengthy appraisal process. LIPA said that the Barrett plant has lost 90 percent of its value, but a New York state appraisal made in the last two years said that its value is still the same. They support the assessed valuation, and we hope that will prevail, because the plant will remain online. It will remain as part of the grid, and that alone makes it more valuable.”

Cohen added that it is unusual in cases such as this for either side to get all it wants. If LIPA wins, or if the negotiations are unsuccessful, he said, it would be “devastating for the Island Park schools.”

“LIPA remains open to any settlement discussions related to the tax litigation,” a company spokesman said this week.

“We are always working to settle cases,” said Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli. “However, we are also prepared to move forward and fight this case in court to protect our taxpayers.”

Frontario added that discussions with LIPA have been “amicable,” and that he hoped that the courts would find the utility’s demand for lower taxes “null and void.”

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