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Huntington Launches LIPA Tax Hike Fight

Petrone, Cuthbertson Detail Plan to Stop LIPA Tax Hike

The Town of Huntington issued this release today:

Northport, NY – Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson today launched a major grassroots effort to fight the Long Island Power Authority’s challenge of the assessment on the Northport Power Plant, a challenge that if successful could cause major pain for Huntington taxpayers while providing minimal if any benefit to LIPA customers.

At a rally held in the shadow of the plant’s stacks, Supervisor Petrone and Councilman Cuthbertson announced details of “Stop The LIPA Tax Hike,” a multi-pronged campaign to fight the LIPA tax lawsuit, including a new website, www.stoplipataxhike.com, to raise awareness and educate residents about the devastating effects a successful LIPA property tax challenge would have.

The campaign will also include the distribution of “Stop The LIPA Tax Hike” lawn signs and a Feb. 1 bus trip to Albany to lobby the Governor and New York State lawmakers to help protect Huntington taxpayers. Residents wishing to participate in the lobbying trip can sign up on the website or in person at Town Hall.

“LIPA was created as a public utility to serve the best interests of Long Island residents and to replace a private company that placed its stockholders’ interests ahead of its customers’,” Supervisor Petrone said. “But in filing suit against the Town, LIPA is demonstrating that it cares more about shareholders of British-based National Grid than it does about Long Islanders. With the grassroots effort, we hope to remind LIPA whom they were created to serve.”

“While we will vigorously defend the town’s interests in the suit, the most effective resolution is for LIPA to accede to the wishes of Long Island residents and withdraw the litigation,” Councilman Cuthbertson said. “We hope to spread that message, loud and clear, on lawns throughout the Town and in the halls of the State Capitol. By working together, we can stop this attempt to raid Huntington residents’ pockets to benefit utility shareholders.”

In October, LIPA filed its suit challenging the assessment on the Northport Power Plant, an effort that if successful would result in tens of millions of dollars in property tax hikes for Huntington Town residents generally, with the heaviest impact on property owners in the Northport-East Northport School District.

In November, the Town Board voted to authorize the Town Attorney to defend the suit using all means at his disposal, including the hiring of outside counsel, consultants and experts. The Town Attorney is currently interviewing law firms that specialize in utility and tax litigation.

The Town Board resolution also created an Assessment Advisory Committee, composed of representatives from Town government, taxing jurisdictions in the Northport area and area business groups, including the Village of Northport, the Northport/East Northport Union Free School District, the Northport/East Northport Library District and the Northport and East Northport Chambers of Commerce. The Committee held its first meeting recently and will continue to meet regularly.

The suit contends that the Northport plant is worth less than eleven percent of the value reflected by its current assessment, on which LIPA plays a total of roughly $70-million in property taxes.  In addition to serious increases in Countywide and Police District portions of tax bills, Town of Huntington residents broadly would experience tax increases of up to 10 percent.   The Northport-East Northport school and library districts are looking at a whopping 50 percent tax increase.

Under an agreement between LIPA and National Grid, tax savings from an assessment reduction would be passed on to National Grid and its shareholders.

“The LIPA property tax challenge comes along at the worst possible time for every Huntington taxpayer. An assessment change would add yet another financial burden to Huntington residents and could very well be the difference between a family staying in the community or picking up stakes. On behalf of every overburdened and underserved LIPA customer, I call on LIPA to do the right thing, drop the challenge and put the hardworking customers’ needs ahead of corporate greed,” said Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset).

Assemblyman James Conte (R-Huntington Station) said, “When LIPA was created there was an agreement that it would not proceed with any tax certiorari proceedings. Our taxpayers should not be hit with a 10 percent tax increase in these tough economic times. As a state representative from Huntington, I will work with our local town officials, LIPA representatives and Governor Cuomo to ensure that Huntington residents are treated fairly and not taxed out of their homes.”

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-Huntington) said, “I am proud to support my fellow taxpayers and the families of the Northport / East Northport School District in strong opposition to LIPA’s lawsuit. I pledge to stand along side my colleagues in local government as we work to find an equitable solution to LIPA’s actions against our community. “

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1 comment to Huntington Launches LIPA Tax Hike Fight

  • James Cormack

    Why isn’t LIPA being deregulated? why can’t we have competition? Why do we have to pay the highest electrical rates in the country. He seems that we always get screwed by these unseen characters behind the scenes.

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