Written by Jill Nossa: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00
In mid-March, members of the Legislative Action Committee, along with North Shore School Board President Carolyn Mazzu Genovesi, traveled to Albany to meet with the four state representatives from this district to try to find an answer. The committee met with New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, New York State Senator Carl L. Marcellino, New York State Assemblyman Michael Montesano and New York State Senator Jack M. Martins to discuss if and when any action will take place. They were told, as previously reported in the Record Pilot, that no action would be taken until after the state budget is approved, and ultimately, the decision is up to the governor.
While the school board is not the lead agency on this matter, Genovesi said they felt they needed to take the lead on this because LIPA pays such a significant portion of the tax levy, and they need to do whatever they can to alleviate the effects of the withdrawal. The portion paid by LIPA will get shifted to other classes of property, such as homeowners, businesses and condos. She explained that the plant could be sold and decommissioned before 2013 and the lost tax revenue could show up on the taxpayers’ bill much sooner than anticipated.
Last fall, Marcellino introduced legislation in the senate for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement that would allow for a phase-in of tax cuts for the property over a period of 10 years. Genovesi testified to the joint fiscal committees of the New York State Legislature in Albany in January, and said that proposed legislation “would provide for a ‘glide path’ rather than a ‘cliff’ in relation to the forecasted property tax loss…This would be a win-win in that the taxpayers would not see a significant impact on the local property tax base while the ratepayers would continue to see rate reductions during the same period.”
She said the immediate loss of this significant tax base and revenue stream would be devastating to the district and the community as a whole.
Right now, Genovesi emphasized the importance of knowing whether or not the plant will be decommissioned this year and when exactly the tax revenue will cease because the board needs to know whether or not it will be accounted for in this year’s budget. She said that while all four representatives said they would “do our best” the bill needs work and nothing specific is set in place.
“We told people to write to them and I know they received hundreds of letters but at this point there is nothing exact, no timeline in place, and that is what we are concerned about.”
By law, Genovesi said that the district is not permitted to put funds aside or into a reserve for a “potential” closing of the power plant. She said there is no way the district could have prepared for LIPA’s decision, but now that the budget needs to be adopted, a plan should be set in place.
“We are urging the legislators to act now, not later,” said Genovesi. She emphasized that in order to make the voice of the community heard, homeowners need to express their concern to the local representatives as well.
While the committee was not entirely convinced that action would be taken, the state senator responded differently.
“Since LIPA and National Grid announced a joint agreement to shut down the Glenwood Generating Station last June, I have had non-stop meetings with the affected parties in the hope that a negotiated settlement could be reached to protect the taxpayers of this community,” Marcellino told the Record Pilot. “Aggravated by the lack of progress in these discussions, I introduced legislation that would spread the severe financial impact from the loss of tax payments over a ten year period. My bill would give the North Shore School District and the municipalities adequate time to plan and adapt for this loss of revenue. I look forward to passing the bill soon.”