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LIPA Update: NS Board of Ed President Testifies to NY State Legislature on Behalf of Residents and School District

In Response to LIPA Decision to Ramp-Down Power Plant

On Jan. 23, Carolyn Mazzu Genovesi, Esq. President of the North Shore School District Board of Education, testified to the joint fiscal committees of the New York State Legislature in Albany. The testimony delivered was in response to the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) decision to ramp-down and demolish the power plant located within the District’s boundaries in Glenwood Landing.

Genovesi emphasized in her statement that the solution for the taxpayers lies only with the state legislature and said, “…[t]here is the potential for our district to save and shelter its students and its core programs from the perfect storm and it rests with the state legislature. Since LIPA remains a state agency under this state’s jurisdiction, I urge the members of the Fiscal Committees to hold LIPA accountable.”

Genovesi recommended that the legislature include a solution in the state’s fiscal plan and pointed the committee to the proposed legislation by Senator Marcellino testifying that this proposed bill “would provide for a ‘glide path’ rather than a ‘cliff’ in relation to the forecasted property tax loss. It would allow for a phase-in of tax cuts for the property over a period of 10 years, while a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) continues to help the district better manage the cuts. 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 this same period.”

She added, “ [t]his reasonable bill should be added into the state’s fiscal plan so that the North Shore School District and any others throughout the state who face a utility’s closure would not have the significant tax loss.”

Genovesi demonstrated the impact by stating, “…[t]he closing of the Glenwood Landing plant will cause significant hardship for our North Shore taxpayers and the school district” and testified that “the lion’s share of the district’s annual budget (92 percent) is derived from local tax revenues as we have not a significant commercial tax base. The district receives over $14 million annually in taxes from LIPA. The immediate loss of this significant tax base and revenue stream will be devastating to the district and the community as a whole.”

Concern was expressed to the legislators that the demolition of the plant is imminent and that without a solution in this year’s state fiscal plan, the future of the district remains uncertain.

Genovesi said her testimony established that the district takes its fiscal responsibilities seriously and is mindful of the pressures on all municipal budgets but illustrated that the district was unable to fiscally plan for the plant’s closing.

 “I am sure that you are aware that our district is NOT permitted by law to put funds aside or into a reserve for a ‘potential’ closing of a power plant. There is no such available legal mechanism under which the district could have prepared for the decision made by LIPA in June of 2011, only six months ago.” She concluded her testimony by stating to the legislators that it was the community’s expectation that the role of state government was to protect citizens in just this type of circumstance and that they should ensure this proposed legislation is adopted.