North Shore Schools Discusses LIPA, Nassau Settlement

Glen Cove Record Pilot

On Oct. 6 and 20, the North Shore School District hosted a special discussion led by Superintendent Dr. Chris Zublionis and Assistant Superintendent for Business James Pappas in the Glenwood Landing Auditorium regarding the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and Nassau County settlement, and its impact on district residents.
Dr. Zublionis has been with the district for 14 years.
“The reason I bring this up is because this situation has been going on for over 10 years, pretty much since I started working here,” Dr. Zublionis said.
The district itself was built around a LIPA powerplant in Glenwood Landing.
“Sea Cliff was a separate school district, Glen Head was a separate school district and Glenwood Landing was a separate school district,” Dr. Zublionis said. “Glenwood Landing got all this money from that new power plant in the earlier 1950s, so the state made all those towns join together [into one district]. So that’s how the district formed. It formed around the power plant and all the money that it generated.”
All of the financial impact that the district is facing now is rooted in that history, Dr. Zublionis explained.
Twenty years ago, homeowners only paid a 50 percent share of the property taxes. The LIPA plant paid 30 percent of the tax base.
“What we’re talking about is the evolution of the tax base, and there’s more tax percentage on the homeowners than ever before because the LIPA plant is now off the tax rolls,” Dr. Zublionis said. “Basically, around 2010 LIPA started a lawsuit to challenge their taxes… We say if a house did that it would be grieving their taxes. It’s kind of the same thing, but it’s on a bigger scale.”
On April 25, the Nassau County Legislature voted 10 – 8 to approve a settlement in the LIPA tax certiorari lawsuit related to the E.F. Barrett power station and the Glenwood Landing power station, an announcement from the Minority Caucus read. The seven-member Minority Caucus voted unanimously against the settlement.
“After overcharging and underserving us for more than two decades, LIPA should be begging Nassau County residents for forgiveness – not receiving a handout from the very ratepayers they left in the dark for weeks during Sandy, Isaias and Ida,” Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams said. “Shame on LIPA and the Blakeman administration for backing a sweetheart deal that leaves Oceanside, Sea Cliff and Island Park residents on the hook for huge tax hikes and cleaning up the environmental disasters that LIPA will leave behind.”
LIPA and the county came to an agreement to settle the lawsuit, that involved hundreds of millions of dollars, in June.
“If LIPA had won that lawsuit, the whole county would have to pay for that, and folks were concerned the county would go bankrupt in trying to pay that,” Dr. Zublionis said. “The county negotiated with LIPA and they came out with a settlement that involves all the properties coming off the tax rolls, so they’re not collected as tax. And they pay what’s called a direct assessment. And they’re paying a certain amount and that decreases overtime. There’s a schedule of payment and it goes down every year, versus what we would have gotten from them as tax money, the district is losing about over $38 million dollars. So if nothing happened, we’d have that 38 million from LIPA over the next five years.”
And still, because LIPA is off the tax rolls now, homeowners are paying a greater share of taxes.
“In April, we knew the county was close to settling with LIPA, and so the [interim] superintendent at the time, Dr. [Thomas] Dolan and the district gave a presentation. It was the same night I was appointed [as superintendent],” Dr. Zublionis recalled. “And they predicted what the possible impact would be on homeowners and so they wanted to get that out there before the budget vote. It turned out the impact wasn’t as bad as we thought. It was a little less of an impact on the homeowner.”
Now, the district is going to have to look at its own budgeting and find new revenue to fill the budget hole of revenue now missing from LIPA.
The district did, however, have a third party lawsuit with LIPA that was settled in July.
“They agreed to pay the district $3.25 million over three years,” Dr. Zublionis said. “That money will help us over the next few years to build… a path as we find efficiencies and adjust to the situation.”
The district will present with specifics as to how those monies will be used in the budget during public budgeting meetings.
“The district decided, the board decided to use $500,000 this year to lower the tax levy by an additional $500,000 using that aid,” Dr. Zublionis said.
The monies from the third party lawsuit will be used to cushion the impacts of the settlement between Nassau County and LIPA.
Now the board of education must look forward, not back, Assistant Superintendent for Business James Pappas said.

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