Despite a protest at the Long Island Power Authority headquarters on Earle Ovington Boulevard on April 21, the Nassau County Legislature voted Monday afternoon to approve the settlement between the county and the utility regarding taxes at the EF power plant Barrett at Island Park.
Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato and Island Park School District and Library management met 10 days after the finance and rules committees of the Legislative Assembly voted not to table the agreement. Superintendent of Schools Vincent Randazzo and Library President Jessica Koenig, among others, expressed concerns about the increased tax burden that would likely be passed on to residents as part of the settlement.
Lawmakers Denise Ford and Delia DeRiggi-Whitton called for the decision to be filed, but that motion was denied. The final vote accepted the settlement by a count of 10-8. James Kennedy was absent. Presiding Judge and District 9 Legislator Richard Nicolello and other lawmakers who voted in favor of the settlement believed the county would ultimately lose the case in court.
LIPA argued that the Island Park power station had been overloaded for more than a decade. The deal will reduce the current $59 million annual tax bill on Barrett Station and the decommissioned Glenwood Landing power station to $32 million over five years, a decrease of around 47%. Payments are guaranteed even if factories close. As part of the settlement, LIPA will forgive between $700 million and $800 million of past repayment debt for tax years dating back to 2010 when the current case began, according to Dan Vincelette, who is representing the county in the tax dispute.
The village of Island Park was strained ten years ago, with massive flooding caused by hurricanes Irene in 2011 and Sandy the following year. “We’ve built back better and stronger, and we’re in the midst of a rebirth at Island Park,” D’Esposito said at the protest. And this regulation has the potential to stop that revival. He appealed to the state government for help.
Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty, who called the LIPA lawsuit a ‘plague of grasshoppers’, joined D’Esposito in calling for a fund to protect homeowners like those affected by the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Generating Station. Last year. In October, Governor Kathy Hochul awarded $15 million in state aid for local infrastructure projects, job training, decommissioning monitoring and environmental research in communities around Buchanan, State. of New York, following the closure of the plant.
“We deserve it!” McGinty exclaimed during the protest last week. “I don’t want to see our beautiful village – the home of Senator D’Amato, the home of so many people devastated and decimated – land values so deep under water that we cannot return.”
Property taxes paid by Barrett’s factory funded significant portions of the school district and Island Park library budgets. Property taxes as a whole accounted for $33 million of the district’s current roughly $40 million spending plan, and Randazzo said plant taxes accounted for nearly half of that total.
“There are a lot of amazing educational opportunities at Island Park Schools that we provide to our students every day,” Randazzo said, “and we certainly don’t want to see them disappear because of this regulation.”
The Island Park Library could get lost in the redesign, as its roughly $1.5 million budget is only a fraction of what the county and school district are discussing, but library director Jessica Koenig and administrator Dean Bacigalupo warned that the settlement could put the elderly and children at risk. programs and staff.
“As our staff shrinks, we will need to provide less access and fewer programs,” Koenig said. “It couldn’t come at a worse time. This library has had so many hits. Before the coronavirus pandemic began, the facility had more than 100,000 visits a year, according to Koenig and Bacigalupo. Now he sees 50,000 to 60,000.
D’Amato argued for the Legislature to let LIPA’s opposition argue its case in court. He also cited a 1999 ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Dana Winslow that LIPA failed to follow the law when it finalized contracts worth more than $1 million. dollars without the approval of the Public Authorities Control Council. “Everything LIPA has done since then sucks ab initio,” D’Amato said, using the Latin term for “empty from the start.” We want to make this argument in court. Lawmaker DeRiggi-Whitton speculated during the April 11 hearing that school taxes could jump more than $200 a month at Island Park.
D’Amato also expressed frustration with what he saw as a lack of support from State Senator Todd Kaminsky and Hochul. “We are a poor working class community and this tax is the death knell,” D’Amato said. “You’re going to kill taxpayers, and the legislature has done nothing to help us.”
Kaminsky, who is not running for re-election in November, responded with a statement on April 21. County Regulations,” it read. “But make no mistake, this agreement is between LIPA and the Nassau County Executive and Legislature. Although I am not a stakeholder, I will continue to fight for additional resources for Island Park, as I have done in the past.
County and LIPA were scheduled to meet in court in late May before Judge Vito DeStefano. No LIPA representative spoke at the meeting prior to the vote.
Voting for the settlement went as follows:
Kevan Abrahams: No.
Siela Bynoe: No.
Carrie Solages: No
Denise Ford: No.
Debra Mule: No
C.William Gaylor: Yes
John Giufee: Yes
Richard Nicolello: Yes
Mazi Melesa Pilip: Yes
Delia De Riggi-Whitton: No.
James Kennedy: Absent
Thomas McKevitt: Yes
Laura Schaefer: Yes.
Jean Ferretti: Yes
Arnold Drucker: No.
Rose Marie Walker: Yes
Joshua Lafazan: No.
Steven Rhoads: Yes