LIPA has agreed to pay $3 million to sweeten the pot in its effort to settle a decade-old tax challenge with the Town of Huntington on the eve of a town board vote on the proposed agreement, both parties confirmed late Friday.
The town, in a release, said the $3 million was offered by LIPA to “help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on town residents.”
Councilman Eugene Cook, a frequent critic of the settlement, called the $3 million “a bribe,” and labeled the settlement offer “the worst deal in history. It’s worse than if the judge ruled against us.”
The Northport-East Northport School District board already has voted to approve the proposed settlement, after LIPA agreed to add $14.5 million to a previous settlement offer that will reduce LIPA’s taxes for the Northport power plant from $86 million to $46 million. Under the settlement, a home valued at $500,000 will see its taxes gradually rise to $13,741 per year by the seventh year, from $10,861 per year now.
In the Friday afternoon release, Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said if the town approved the settlement in a vote next week, the authority would pay the town $1 million a year over the first three years of the deal starting in 2021 and ending in 2023.
Lupinacci called the $3 million “an appropriate recognition of the impacts of this [COVID-19] crisis" and the economic challenges that came with it.
LIPA, in a statement, said the $3 million recognized “the challenge of the pandemic on the town’s finances” adding, “We believe we have made a fair offer for the town to move forward.”
The town has scheduled a final online public forum on the settlement offer for Thursday at 6 p.m., to be followed by a board vote on the measure at 8 p.m.
State Assembly candidate Michael Marcantonio, a frequent critic of the proposed settlement, called the $3 million payment “peanuts."
"Under LIPA's settlement offer, Huntington will lose about $200 million over the next seven years," he said. "Giving us $3 million back is crumbs ... If anything, it shows how desperate LIPA is."
Added Cook, “The fact that this town board will not fight for its people is absolutely shameful.”
In the town release, Huntington Town board member Joan Cergol said the $3 million “concession” was “certainly worthy of consideration.” Board member Mark Cuthbertson called it “a welcome development.” Both were still reviewing the settlement, the statement said.