The Town of Huntington rejected a late June settlement offer from the Long Island Power Authority that would take the utility's demand for $171 million in back taxes off the table and phase down tax payments to municipalities over 10 years, starting in 2015.
"They know we're going to go forward with this, that we're not going to sit back and accept a reduction in taxes that still raise the school taxes by $20,000 over 10 years. Absurd!" Supervisor Frank Petrone said last Tuesday. "People can't live here with that. That's our first order of business, to put our foot down, and we did."
Cuomo Deal Seeks to End LIPA Tax Battle Outside Courts
Although the governor's office called LIPA's offer to settle the 2010 tax assessment challenge a "fair and reasonable approach," the Town considers the offer only a "starting point" in advancing toward a resolution that would include repowering the Northport plant.
The move created division among the Town Board and Councilmen Mark Mayoka and Gene Cook accused Petrone of keeping them in the dark in meetings and correspondence with LIPA, the State, and the Governor's office.
Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, who attended the meetings with Petrone, called the claims "disingenuous" and said the two have been briefed in pertinent matters.
Petrone said the entire board will be briefed, likely sometime in August, "once there is material and once there is direction we know we can take."
"The attorneys and our consultants are in the process now of pulling apart the impacts now that we know what some of the ground rules are in terms of where LIPA would like to go," Petrone said. "Once we have that we can make a decision in terms of where we go and how far we pursue this."
Petrone and Cuthbertson also batted down accusations from Sens. John Flanagan, R-East Northport, and Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, that the Town has politicized its fight against LIPA's assessment challenge in an election year, saying in a response letter that "the record will reflect that we have acted in the best interests of Town residents."
As part of the deal, the town has four months to come to an agreement with LIPA or continue deliberations in court.