Lab to increase payments to schools and others

Brookhaven National Lab’s ion collider is the only

Brookhaven National Lab’s ion collider is the only such remaining facility in the United States. (Credit: BNL)

Brookhaven National Laboratory has agreed to boost its annual payments in lieu of taxes to various public entities in town, federal officials said.

The Department of Energy, which operates the lab, intends to pay $1.42 million -- an increase of $160,000 over last year's allocation.

The laboratory in Upton does not owe taxes because it is on federal property. However, the energy department makes annual payments -- or PILOTs -- to Brookhaven Town, which distributes funds to Suffolk County, the Longwood and Eastport-South Manor school and library districts, the Ridge and Manorville fire districts and Manorville Ambulance District.

Federal and local officials had expressed concern two months ago because the lab had not made its 2013 payment by July 1, as it normally does.

They were also concerned the lab might cut its payment.

"This is good news for residents in Brookhaven, who can now breathe a sigh of relief that decreased PILOT payments will not impact local services like fire districts and education programs," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Friday. "I am pleased that the Department of Energy heeded our call and authorized BNL to increase its PILOT payment."

Bob Gordon, the energy department's deputy site manager at Brookhaven Lab, said the stipend will be paid out of funds allocated to the department by Congress for such payments. He said there is no established schedule for making payments.

"When the town makes a request to the Department of Energy . . . we process it," Gordon said. "There's no set time for that."

The portion the town distributes to each taxing district varies and is based on how much they would receive if the lab paid property taxes. In 2012, the Eastport-South Manor district received nearly half of the $1.26- million stipend paid by the lab. The county was paid $172,695, and Brookhaven kept $93,768.

Ridge Fire District Commissioner James Scuttina said the $28,823 lab stipend sent to his district last year was "not a whole lot," given the district's $3.42-million annual budget. Still, he added, "It's something we look forward to. . . . It's a small percentage, but in this day and age, everything counts."

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