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Town of Huntington, NY - News Details

4/23/2020 - Citing Coronavirus Impacts, Town of Huntington Asks LIPA to Pause Litigation, LIPA Rejects Request

Huntington – The Town of Huntington, alongside the Northport-East Northport School District, called on LIPA to pause all pending litigations regarding the Northport Power Plant in light of the extreme disruption the Coronavirus pandemic has had and will have on the health and welfare of the Town of Huntington, severely impacted as a primary hotspot for the national public health and economic crisis, in a letter dated April 22, 2020; LIPA rejected this request in a letter dated April 23, 2020.


“It’s astonishing LIPA does not recognize that this global health crisis and its severe and unprecedented economic impact necessitates a change in posture,” said Town Attorney Nicholas Ciappetta.


Ciappetta, at the direction of the Huntington Town Board, sent a letter to attorneys for LIPA on April 22, 2020, “respectfully request[ing] that your client agree to a stipulation delaying any proceedings pending before the New York State Supreme Court and the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division until at least July 1, 2022.”


After laying out very serious concerns related to the Coronavirus pandemic's impact on the economy, the loss of tax revenues to all levels of government and educational agencies, and the severe consequences of such stretching into at least 2022, Ciappetta argued:


"While this parade of horribles will be visited upon every school district in the State of New York, the Northport-East Northport School District faces an added threat in the pending tax certiorari litigation that hangs over its head like the proverbial sword of Damocles. While it will be extremely difficult for the School District to sustain its programs and staffing in response the loss of state aid due to the pandemic, it would be impossible for the School District to simultaneously adjust to an unfavorable decision from the Supreme Court, or even the most favorable settlement agreement. In blunt terms, the combination of two such extraordinary events would leave the School District unrecognizable in the short term and devastated for years to come.


"Lastly, it is important to note that LIPA is a corporate municipal entity of the State of New York under New York Public Authorities Law § 1020(c). Public entities such as LIPA have a unique civic responsibility that set them apart from corporate entities and a moral obligation to avoid acts that would devastate communities such as the Northport-East Northport School District and the Town of Huntington. A court ordered judgment or settlement resulting in a substantial tax increase in the midst of a global public health crisis would simply be unconscionable.


"For all these reasons, the Town of Huntington, like the Northport-East Northport School District, firmly believes that these extraordinary times call for a pause in the pending litigations regarding the Northport Power Plant."


Attorneys for LIPA rejected the request in a letter dated April 23, 2020.


“While LIPA’s attorneys cite other settlements for smaller plants, which are nowhere near being apples-to-apples comparisons to our case, and ‘fairness for all ratepayers’ as their motives in pursuing this lawsuit,” said Town Attorney Ciappetta, “there is no guarantee that there would be any reduction in their customers’ bills if the outcome of these cases were to favor LIPA and one of LIPA’s trustees is even on record saying the savings for customers island-wide would only be at most a $1 dollar bill reduction.”