The State Senate, in the waning hours of the 2018 legislative season last month, passed a resolution that could offer relief to homeowners possibly facing steep property-tax hikes in communities where the Long Island Power Authority is seeking to reduce the property values of its plants, and thus the local taxes it pays. Island Park is among those communities.
The Assembly, however, failed to pass a companion bill before the legislative session, which ran from January to June, ended. The bill thus cannot be taken up again until the next session, which will begin next January.
If the Legislature’s two chambers were able to each pass a version of the bill, they would then have to reach a compromise agreement for signature by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
LIPA is seeking up to a 90 percent reduction in property taxes on four of its plants, which it has argued are overassessed, including the E.F. Barrett plant in Island Park.
Board of Education President Jack Vobis said he was pleased that the Senate passed legislation to mitigate the possible tax increase that could “befall the people” if taxes on the Barrett plan were reduced.
Schools Superintendent Rosemarie Bovino agreed. “It would be advantageous if we could work proactively on behalf of the community,” she said, “by developing a financial plan for mitigating the impact, rather than waiting until a decision is rendered and we don’t have the authority to use monies for this purpose.”
Bovino said, however, that she was disappointed the Assembly did not pass companion bill A10496. She said that Assembly members must be educated about “its importance to the Island Park community.”
Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, a Republican from Atlantic Beach who represents Oceanside, said that she, too, was disappointed by the Assembly’s failure to pass a companion bill, noting that time ran out before the measure could be voted on. The bill never left committee for a vote by the full Assembly.
Millrt said she believes LIPA should have “stuck to their original promise” not to seek tax reductions on its plants. “What Island Park is facing is not their fault,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
Miller said she hoped the measure would pass in the Assembly when legislators return to Albany in January. The prospect of passage, however, remains uncertain.
“I think the Senate did the right thing,” she noted.
The Senate bill, passed on the night of June 19, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and co-sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach. It would allow for the creation of tax-stabilization reserve funds by school districts and municipalities where LIPA won tax reductions, and it would broaden the use of an existing $30 million state power plant cessation mitigation fund to lessen the hit to communities facing potentially drastic losses to their tax bases as a result of LIPA’s ongoing tax-certiorari proceedings.
“It is vital that taxpayers in Island Park have every protection possible when dealing with LIPA’s lawsuit,” Kaminsky said, adding that it is unclear how much in state funding Island Park might be eligible for if the legislation were to pass.
Taxes from the E.F. Barrett plant comprise roughly 40 percent of the Island Park School District budget. School officials have estimated that homeowners in the community could pay about $3,000 more per household to make up the shortfall, if LIPA were to receive the full tax reduction it is seeking on the plant.