The has filed a counter lawsuit against LIPA and National Grid, joining the in charging that the utility companies violated a 1997 agreement when they started litigation last October challenging the assessment on the
“Aware of the terms of the agreement between LIPA and LILCO, the town upheld its end in not raising the assessment on the plant,” Supervisor Petrone said today. “It is unfortunate that the town is forced to seek a court order requiring LIPA and National Grid to do the same. "
LIPA’s suit contends that the Northport plant is worth less than 11 percent of the value reflected by its current assessment, on which LIPA plays a total of roughly $70 million in property taxes. Town of Huntington residents broadly would experience tax increases of up to 10 percent. The Northport-East Northport school and library districts are looking at a 50 percent tax increase.
In addition to Director Eileen Minogue, several school board members and Superintendent of Schools Marylou McDermott came to Town Hall Wednesday in a show of support for the town as it made its announcement.
"These entities made promises and representations to the School District, which were made for the benefit of the School District and its residents," Northport Board of Education President Stephen W. Waldenburg, Jr. said.
Village of Asharoken Trustee Masterson and Attorney Ken Savin were also at Town Hall Tuesday as Huntington announced the lawsuit.
In papers filed in State Supreme Court in Riverhead Tuesday, Huntington and the school district note that in June 1997, when LIPA took over the sale and delivery of electricity from the Northport plant from the Long Island Lighting Co., it agreed not to challenge the assessment on the plant unless the assessment was increased out of proportion to any capital improvements there.
In particular, the suits cited an August 6, 1997 letter from Richard Kessel, then LIPA’s chairman, to Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone in which Kessel stated, “In the future, there will be no appeal or litigation of any assessment on the Northport facility unless Huntington Town singles out LIPA, LILCO or Brooklyn Union Gas property for reassessment, thus increasing the assessment separate and apart from other properties located within the Town.” A copy of that letter is attached to this article.
As the town has not increased the plant’s assessment since 1997, the suits LIPA and National Grid filed in October 2010 seeking to reduce the plant’s assessment by 90 percent directly violate that 1997 agreement, the town and school district alleged.
Former Councilman Stuart Besen's firm Besen and Trop has been working with Town Attorney John Leo on the lawsuit papers.