Legal actions taken by the Town, Village and School District to generate an equitable solution to the LIPA tax assessment challenges are intended to protect its residents and children against exorbitant property tax increases; especially in a very short interval of time. The Mayor and the Village of Port Jefferson Trustees, the Supervisor and the Brookhaven Town Council, and the Superintendent and the Port Jefferson Board of Education are all pursuing what they believe is best for their constituents.

The Port Jefferson School District is not a tax assessing entity like the Town of Brookhaven or the Village of Port Jefferson, although it does receive school tax revenue collected by the Town. Despite this fact, the District was criticized by some residents for not being more active in the LIPA legal battle back in 2010. After a few years of contributing to the Village’s research studies and legal fees to challenge LIPA’s claims, the District began its own course of action. The District’s legal battle is based on the premise that it has a vested interest in the tax assessment challenge because, although it does not assess or receive taxes directly, it can be significantly impacted financially should the court rule in favor of LIPA.

Please know, that the District fully understands that the decision about engaging legal counsel is one to be made with great care, as it always carries a financial implication while never guaranteeing a verdict in one’s favor. Therefore, as a District, we needed to consider if not being involved in a legal battle to protect those with whom we are entrusted is actually more costly than risking a court ruling that may not be in our favor. It was the District’s decision, after carefully weighing all options, that it was our obligation to our taxpayers to fight for our right to take part in the negotiation process – to at least attempt to allow our voices to be heard during the litigation process. With the support and encouragement of our residents, we worked to advocate for this chance instead of idling sitting by and waiting for a decision – one in which we had no input – to be made.  

We are disappointed that Justice Emerson did not rule in our favor in August with regard to our pursuit of having a third party interest in the legal issue with LIPA.  On a positive note, our legal action may have contributed to a delay in the process of reaching a tax assessment settlement.  This delay could very well have saved our district millions of dollars from the point we initiated legal action. This setback does not define how this lawsuit may influence the ultimate outcome of the Town’s negotiations with LIPA and may help to contribute to a more equitable resolution in the long-term. 

The Port Jefferson Board of Education is discussing whether or not to appeal the recent Judge’s decision. 

We have heard rumors that there may be a resolution to the LIPA issue this school year and that revenue from property taxes may not continue in its present form in the future. However, the details of which are not clear nor are they finalized. But the reality is, no matter what the resolution is, the status quo we are accustomed to in Port Jefferson is bound to be altered.  

As a School District, the real challenge for us moving forward will be to balance the impact of any reduction in LIPA’s assessment between our responsibility to maintain an outstanding educational program for the children of our community and our concern for the financial impact on our community residents’ property taxes. We believe the impact should be shared.

We have a deep sense of belief in our district and in our community.  We are strong and resilient. We can handle adversity and emerge stronger and wiser as a result.  We are committed to working together to persevere and continue to provide an outstanding education to the children of the Port Jefferson school community.