Help School Districts Affected by Power Plant Closures and Revalued Tax Bases
As a constituent who cares deeply about public education in our state, I am extremely concerned about the financial stability of school districts affected by power plant closures and school districts that face tax penalties when the tax base is revalued due to a court decision.
A growing number of school districts around the state have been or will be affected by power plant closures. Districts affected by power plant closures, such as Indian Point, will need to be made whole by the state to ensure that they will have the resources required to educate their students.
Other districts will require assistance in mitigating the financial impact stemming from reductions in the full valuation of their tax base. For instance, in North Rockland, the district faced fiscal peril when an energy producer sued and was ultimately removed from the tax rolls. This created a negative tax consequence for the school district and they were required to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payments they had received. This district is still paying $11 million per year to comply with the court's judgement.
While I am appreciative that both the Senate and Assembly took steps to address North Rockland's issue in their 2019 one-house budgets, I ask that you work to ensure that these provisions are enacted in the final budget this year, and I urge the Legislature to establish a program that will support school districts that face adverse tax decisions and power plant decommissioning, such as Port Jefferson, Northport-East Northport, North Shore and Island Park on Long Island. In the past, the Legislature has appropriated funds for school districts facing similar issues, such as KenTon in Western New York.
As the state's energy plan evolves, older and less efficient power plants will be taken offline, such as the Huntley power plant in Tonawanda. In these instances, when a power plant closes or when the full valuation of the tax base has been significantly reduced, the state should provide funding to ensure that school districts are made whole. Without the state stepping in to assist affected districts, our children will continue to pay the price as their academic programs and services are slashed or eliminated.
I urge you to help ensure the long-term stability of communities adversely affected by alterations in the tax base stemming from power plant closures or tax base revaluations by providing much needed funding to help gap these fiscal shortfalls.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. I respectfully ask that you bring up this issue with your conference and leadership. I would greatly appreciate a response to this letter.
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