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The National Grid power plant in Northport, seen

The National Grid power plant in Northport, seen here on Oct. 28, 2010.

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Daily Point

PBA is back with bill

Last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a bill approved in the final days of the Albany session that would have made it illegal for a financial control board like the Nassau Interim Finance Authority to freeze step raises in public contracts. Those step increases are based on time on the job — not cost of living or other negotiated annual increases. The bill was almost entirely about Police Benevolent Association members of Nassau County, who receive huge annual increases early in their employment, when their base pay jumps from $35,000 a year to $111,000 a year after nine years of work. NIFA is fairly unique in the state, and the cops are fairly unique in Nassau, with such an extreme pay scale.

Cuomo vetoed the bill, which passed both chambers easily, after heavy lobbying by NIFA.

It was NIFA that declared the financial emergency and a pay freeze in 2011 that was not lifted until 2014. The freeze saved the county at least $230 million. Much of the savings came from officers stuck in the steps, many of whom had left higher-paying jobs with the NYPD to get on the (eventual) gravy train of Nassau policing.

So this year, the PBA is back with a similar ask, but the bill is even more tailored to Nassau’s situation. The 2018 version says the new restriction would apply only when a bargaining unit already has participated in a previous wage freeze that helped the county get on its feet — true only in Nassau.

If the new bill, which has passed the Senate and is in committee in the Assembly, gets to Cuomo, he will face the same calculus as last year. NIFA and the county administration will ask him to veto it. It would be surprising if anything changed, even though the Nassau County executive did. Why would Cuomo have done more for Edward Mangano than he’s willing to do for Laura Curran?

Lane Filler

Talking Point

Long Island wins again!

Commercial Cafe, a commercial real estate analytics firm, just determined that the Northport power plant is the highest taxed property in the nation, with an annual bill just north of $82 million for 2017.

This is the second year in a row that the aging plant has won national recognition as the highest-taxed property. Right behind were New York City properties: The General Motors Building was No. 2 at $75.5 million, and Stuyvesant Town, the residential behemoth in Manhattan, was No. 3 at $66.5 million. No. 5 was the MetLife Building at $52 million, while the Empire State Building was No. 15 at $39 million.

What’s dramatically different is that those properties are privately owned, and the tax bill is paid out of profits from rents. Northport’s excessive costs, however, burdened all Long Islanders for the benefit of a very few.

That’s why all eyes are on Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari challenge that was supposed to go to trial Monday, but was pushed back 30 days because one of the attorneys in the litigation is ill. And prospects of state help to ease the potential loss of revenue for the Northport-East Northport school district grow dimmer in Albany as the legislative session draws to an end without any meaningful support for the idea.

The outdated assessments for LIPA’s generating plants are so Mickey Mouse that the Northport plant is taxed 2.5 times more than Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Rita Ciolli

Pencil Point

Splitting the bill

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Quick Points

Signal problems

  • On a beautiful spring day when Justify ran into history at the Belmont Park, so did the Long Island Rail Road — its history of signal problems.
  • After the G-7 meeting, President Donald Trump repudiated the agreement reached by the seven supposed allies, prompting one French official to say it’s impossible to work with Trump when “two hours later the guy decides he doesn’t agree with what he agreed with.” But he can’t have been surprised, unless he hasn’t been watching Trump deal with Congress.
  • As a student, the future world leader was “swaggering,” made “grand declarations” to classmates and demanded “slavish loyalty” from them, according to intelligence sources who have studied the record of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. You thought this was about someone else?
  • Remember when President Donald Trump said other world leaders should also put their own nations first? Other world leaders except, apparently, Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
  • A crew of federal workers uses Scotch tape to reassemble papers President Donald Trump has ripped up, to comply with federal law requiring presidential documents be preserved. Too bad there’s no Scotch tape for international relationships.
  • With little soccer tradition, few decent soccer stadiums and a bid deemed the riskiest of all proposals, Russia used some creative persuasiveness (alleged natural gas deals, gifts of art, etc.) to win enough votes from other countries’ to host the World Cup. It starts Thursday. No matter how the games turn out, Vladimir Putin has already won.

Michael Dobie

Columns