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Mangano proposal: Give PSEG special property tax exception

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, pictured here Sept.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, pictured here Sept. 15, 2015 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau is proposing to make a special exception for PSEG to allow it to make partial payments on its property tax bills, unlike other county taxpayers.

Legislation to change the county's administrative code is expected to be considered by the Republican-controlled county legislature Monday.

The proposal by the administration of Republican County Executive Edward Mangano would allow the county treasurer to accept partial payments of property tax bills of at least $1 million.

Currently, county law forbids taxpayers from making only partial payments of their property taxes. All three town tax receivers rejected PSEG's tax payments last month because the power company sent in nearly $1.4 million less than $30.4 million billed. The towns then withheld $30 million in property tax revenue from Nassau because the county treasurer is responsible for collecting unpaid taxes after Aug. 31.

LIPA, which still owns power facilities operated by PSEG, had directed PSEG to limit tax-bill increases to 2 percent because its lawyers said the state-approved LIPA Reform Act of 2013 caps tax hikes to 2 percent annually on company properties.

The county proposal does not name LIPA or PSEG directly, but clearly applies to the power company because it refers to "payments in lieu of taxes." Under state law, LIPA properties are tax-exempt but the utility continues to pay property taxes, effectively making "payments in lieu of taxes."

The change would allow the county to seek collection of the unpaid balance while "bringing certainty to the county's revenue collection process," the legislative summary explains.

Frank Moroney, spokesman for the legislature's Republican majority, said the bill, submitted Friday, likely will be considered Monday. "It's creative and we'll take a look at it," he said.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said, "We just received the legislation, but our position from day one has been to protect the taxpayer."

A Mangano spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Also Monday, the Republican legislative majority is expected to accept the smaller tax payment from PSEG for the general tax bills, which fund towns, special districts and the county. The partial payment was approved on a party-line vote when it went through committees. Republican legislators said it was better to get some, rather than none, of $30 million due, while Democrats complained that homeowners and businesses will have to pay more if the power company pays less.

The legislature also is expected to approve tax warrants, the legal documents that set tax rates and assessed values, for this year's school tax bills, which are mailed next month. The acting county assessor said this week that utility property tax increases have been limited to 2 percent in the school district warrants.

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