Could there be a last-minute effort to settle the brutal fight between LIPA and Northport residents?
The court case between the Long Island Power Authority and the Town of Huntington over the tax valuation of the Northport Power Plant is headed back to court Monday for final arguments. It’s been a long, drawn-out case in which most players concede a negotiated settlement is the right answer. The $3.4 billion value the town puts on the plant is far too high, but the impact of a huge and instant reduction in the $84 million a year in taxes LIPA ratepayers fork over, plus a potential $800 million immediate refund of past overpayments, would be catastrophic.
Suffolk Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman now is in the mix, an emissary sent by County Executive Steve Bellone, who is one of many officials under increasing pressure from the Concerned Taxpayers Against LIPA. That group’s Facebook group boasts about 4,600 members, and it is persistent with its demands at public events, on social media and through telephone calls to officials.
In a phone interview Thursday, Kaiman told The Point, “We’ve been watching what’s been going on and we have a sense it’s coming to a head, and it would be helpful if everybody got back to the negotiating table.”
Kaiman said he’s been informally canvassing the players representing LIPA, the Northport-East Northport school district and the town, along with residents and leaders of Concerned Taxpayers Against LIPA.
Unsticking such situations is a role that Kaiman, best known for his time as North Hempstead Town supervisor, has increasingly been assigned. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had him head up the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, where he negotiated an end to the county pay freeze, and run the New York Rising operation that led the state’s Sandy recovery effort.
Whether he will be the conduit to Cuomo, who some view as the ultimate negotiator in this case, could determine how far Kaiman’s portfolio takes him.