Some Wading River schools, fire district taxpayers will get refunds

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Special legislation was required to get tax refunds for Riverhead Town residents in the Shoreham-Wading River School District and Wading River Fire District. The districts straddle two towns. So do the hamlet's duck ponds, shown above.

Some Wading River area residents will be getting property tax refund checks in the mail. Others will see the year’s second tax bill reduced. And some will see their monthly mortgage escrow payments pared down, officials have announced.

Residents in the Shoreham-Wading River School District and Wading River Fire District paid too much in taxes last year due to an error in assessing taxes on the shuttered nuclear power plant property.

And LIPA, who owns the land, has agreed to make up for the shortfall — estimated at around $1.5 million — which was then passed on to residents, officials said.

On average, property owners will be receiving a reported $200 refund.

It was already announced that the Brookhaven Town side of the Wading River — which is divided by the two towns — would be getting refunds, but county legislation was required to get those in Riverhead Town their money back. Legislator Ed Romaine and County Executive Steve Bellone announced Friday that the necessary resolutions were passed.

“I was pleased to work together with Legislator Romaine to immediately address the overpayment and put money back in the hands of Riverhead taxpayers,” Mr. Bellone said Friday.  “I am pleased that the issue was resolved and that affected taxpayers will be receiving their refunds.”

The assessment error was made by Brookhaven Town, officials said. The error saw the Long Island Power Authority pay less in fire and school taxes last year, with the rest of the area’s taxpayers having to make up the difference in funding the schools and fire department.

To correct the error, fire and school tax portions of property tax bills for those in the affected districts will be reduced by about 2.6 percent. That translates to a reported $200 school tax refund for an average homeowner, and a few dollars more for those living the fire district.

According to a press release issued Friday, “If a property owner has already paid taxes in full, he or she will receive a refund check for the overpayment. If only the first half of taxes has been paid, the second half taxes will be reduced by the amount overpaid. If property taxes are paid through a mortgage escrow account, the Town of Riverhead will send lending institutions an adjusted tax bill for the second half of the year.”

Mr. Romaine said he appreciated the town for correcting the assessment error, and for LIPA’s willingness to simply pay the money back.

“In these tough economic times, it is often difficult to make ends meet,” he said. “Everyone is trying to do more with less and each dollar back in taxpayers’ pockets helps ease the burden.”

Property owners can contact Riverhead Town at (631) 727-3200 for specific information on their tax refund.

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