In these difficult economic times, everyone – businesses and individuals alike – is looking to reduce their costs. That’s fine, as long one person or businesses’ cost cutting does not unfairly shift the burden onto someone else.
I mention this because that’s exactly what the Long Island Power Authority is trying to do by challenging the assessment on the Northport Power Plant. In an effort to reduce ratepayers’ bills by a few dollars a month, LIPA has initiated a process that seeks more than $270 million in back taxes and a 90 percent reduction in their current and future taxes.
If successful, this could hike Town residents’ property tax bills by 15 percent and those of Northport-East Northport School District residents by 60 percent. Add in increases to county and library taxes and the cost to the average Northport or East Northport resident would be thousands of dollars a year. That’s a lot of pain for not a lot of gain.
The challenge also fails to take into account that the Northport-East Northport School district, and by extension, the Town, have for half a century hosted a facility that benefits all of Long Island while adversely affecting at the very least the aesthetics of the community and, until controls were added some years ago, the environment.
We all pay taxes for programs that we don’t or can’t use. Just because we don’t like paying for those services, should we be allowed to stop? Seniors don’t have children in the schools. Should they be able to challenge their school taxes because they pay the same amount, or more, as families with school-age children?
We pay these taxes because as a society we all benefit from these programs and services, even if individually we do not.
Put aside the fact that the Town believes it has a strong case to resist LIPA’s challenge, and put aside the fact that at the crux of the matter is a promise that the Town has kept to hold the Northport Power Plant’s assessment stable while LIPA seeks to break its promise not to challenge the assessment as a result. It is just not fair to suddenly place a large burden on a small group of individuals to achieve a small benefit for a larger one.
The State Legislature recognized that when they passed the legislation approving LIPA’s takeover of the Long Island Lighting Co. and included language to keep property taxes in the Shoreham-Wading River School District and Brookhaven Town from soaring.
For the same reason, similar language involving the Northport Power Plant must be included in the legislation restructuring LIPA currently under legislative review.
The Town Board went on record last week, voting unanimously to ask our State Legislature delegation to include that language in the LIPA restructuring bill.
But as Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and I noted earlier this week, we need your help by telling Governor Cuomo and our state Legislators that you support our request. Go to the Stop the LIPA Tax Hike page on the Town’s website, HUntingtonNY.gov. You will find the text of a letter you can email them (without leaving the website) and an online petition you can sign.
The legislature is looking to adjourn next week, so we need you to act quickly. Help stop the LIPA tax increase NOW.