Brookhaven lab payment could be less than expected

The Town of Brookhaven and several school and fire districts that serve Brookhaven National Laboratory could receive less money than expected this year from the federal department that manages the Upton facility, federal officials said Tuesday.

Congress has authorized an annual payment in lieu of taxes to the town, Suffolk County, two school districts and several fire and library districts, officials said. But it was unclear Tuesday whether the payment will match the $1.4 million town officials said they had arranged with federal officials.

An aide to Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said this year's payment is expected to be about the same as the $1.26 million paid last year by the federal Department of Energy. The energy department makes the annual payment on behalf of the lab, which does not pay taxes because it is on federal property.

Frank Crescenzo, an energy department site manager at the laboratory, said Congress had approved a resolution to allocate the stipend, known as a PILOT, with the amount to be determined by the energy department. But he said he did not know when or how much the payment would be.

"It's nowhere near zero," he said. "If anything, it's going to be approximately the same as it was last year."

Aides said Bishop and Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand would ask the energy department to increase its contribution.

"Brookhaven National Labs owes over $1.4 million in PILOT payments, and I will be urging the Department of Energy to provide that full amount," said Schumer (D-N.Y.). "Those funds go to education and other important uses, and they should be paid in full."

Brookhaven distributes the funds to the county, the Longwood and Eastport-South Manor school and library districts, the Ridge and Manorville fire districts and Manorville Ambulance District.

Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, at a Town Hall news conference Tuesday, said the energy department in previous years had made the payment by July, but has not done so. He said he has not received a written agreement from energy department officials confirming the amount.

"I'm glad to hear that the PILOT payment of $1.2 million . . . is forthcoming," he said. "I would ask that someone at the U.S. Energy Department put that in writing and forward it to the town."

Mark Nocero, superintendent of Eastport-South Manor Central School District, said he is "confident elected officials will come through for us."

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