N. Shore schools shed light on ‘catastrophic loss’ from LIPA case

N. Shore schools shed light on ‘catastrophic loss’ from LIPA case
Christopher Zublionis, superintendent of North Shore Central School District, addresses a crowd. During a special meeting on Oct. 6, officials addressed their ongoing issue about the loss of the Glenwood Landing power plant as a taxpayer. (Photo by Steven Keehner)

North Shore Central School District officials highlighted the ongoing predicament over their loss of the Glenwood Landing power plant as a taxpayer during a special meeting on Oct. 6.

In 2011, the Glenwood Landing power plant was decommissioned. LIPA had been disputing its taxes with Nassau County since 2010, and after more than 10 years of litigation, the district was notified in June of a final settlement that did not include them. The county will now collect direct assessments from LIPA instead of gradually decreasing tax payments.

“Going forward, we’re bringing in a new spirit of efficiency,” Superintendent Chris Zublionis said. “[We’re] really taking this very seriously and also advocating with legislators to bring aid and looking for ways to bring in revenue.”

The district planned on getting $16 million from LIPA as tax revenue and Payments in Lieu of Taxes. But because of the direct assessment, it will lose $3.1 million from what officials  had budgeted for this year.

Over the next five years, Zublionis said the LIPA agreement will cost the district $38.6 million after the loss of the tax revenue. He added that even if the district could pass on the cost to taxpayers, the tax cap would make it difficult.

“The tax cap is really meant to cover those annual increases in expenses, like salaries, health insurance, those things that naturally go up,” he said. “It’s not built to handle this kind of catastrophic loss in a neighborhood.”

The taxes paid by LIPA will likely transfer to the remaining properties. The district says the increase will likely result in a shift from one taxpayer to another and is a function of the county’s assessment system.

The courts did not finish the deal until after the budget vote. Because the county is the assessing authority, the district is unsure how the settlement will affect specific taxpayers.

“The impact of the LIPA settlement on taxpayers is compounded by the county assessment system,” said Zublionis. “So we’re seeing wild variation in individuals’ property taxes which we’re going to research into.”

The district secured an extra $3.25 million in settlement payments. It spent $500,000 this year to reduce the impact of a prospective tax shift. In the future, the district will continue to use this cash to mitigate potential tax shifts.

Following the final approval of the settlement, the district reduced the tax levy to lessen the burden on the community. If this had not been done, the  residents could have faced a tax shift of up to $9 million, according to the district.

Zublionis said LIPA is going to renegotiate its direct assessments with the county in 2027. By that point, instead of $16 million, it will be paying about $8.2 million in total. He said the district will need to advocate for LIPA to continue paying those direct assessments.

“For our purposes, planning for the next five years we have to get to a zeroing out point,” he said, “where we make cuts or find new revenues that handle this LIPA loss.”


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