Suffolk taxpayers demand governor help with LIPA tax battle

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NORTHPORT -

Residents stood out in the pouring rain Monday beneath the stacks of the Northport Power Plant to demand that Gov. Andrew Cuomo help with their tax battle against LIPA.

As News 12 has reported, LIPA is suing the Town of Huntington. LIPA says for years it's been paying too much in taxes for the power plant. However, taxpayers and school officials say lowering LIPA's multimillion-dollar tax bill would decimate the community by taking money away from the school district and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.

Christine Ballow, of Eatons Neck, says her taxes would skyrocket.

"We anticipate if this goes through the way LIPA wants it to, it will be at least $10,000 more," says Ballow.

School district officials say there's no way it could absorb the cost of losing the money it gets from the plant's taxes.

Robert Banzer, the superintendent of the Northport-East Northport School District, had a message for Gov. Cuomo.

"Hold them to the promise that they made not to challenge their assessments," says Banzer. "Promises that they made to the IRS, to investors and the communities that host them. LIPA is a public authority that answers to you. Don't let them devastate our school district in our community and school districts and communities across Long Island."

MORE: Group rallies against possible property tax break for LIPA

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci says the town is in a unique situation because a state entity is suing a municipality. He wants the governor to intervene and make sure that LIPA makes a fair offer to the residents.

LIPA issued a statement saying in part, "Our goal remains putting an unsustainable situation back on a sustainable path for the local community and the rest of LIPA's 1.1 million customers. All customers can visit Tax Fairness for Long Island for more information on how LIPA's solution can lower bills while transitioning the local community to a sustainable tax future"

The town says it's continuing to negotiate in good faith. Both sides are due back in court the end of July.

News 12 reached out to Gov. Cuomo's office, but hasn't heard back.

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