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LIPA and judge must give Huntington one last chance

The LIPA Power Plant in Northport is seen

The LIPA Power Plant in Northport is seen in this 2019 aerial picture. Credit: Newsday / John Keating

The battle between the Long Island Power Authority and the town of Huntington over the taxes on the Northport Power Plant has raged for a decade. Now the town has scheduled a meeting for Sept. 29 to vote on a settlement offer.

The delay is not what LIPA or the judge overseeing the mediation wanted. Both set an Aug. 11 deadline for the deal to be accepted or withdrawn. The delay also is not entirely justified, given how many opportunities the town has had to inform residents of the offer and judge their response.

But even so, the court and LIPA should give the town this last chance. Waiting 10 weeks to avoid economic devastation for the town and the Northport-East Northport school district is worth trying.

The offer, a gradual reduction of the taxes on the plant from $86 million a year to $46 million, an extra $14.5 million for the school district and an agreement that the $46 million rate will get extended for five years if the plant is part of a new power purchase agreement, should be accepted. It would prevent a huge tax increase for the district and for Huntington property owners, who’d have to cover a refund that could reach $850 million.

The school district approved the offer last week but the town board punted, with opponents of the deal getting another public hearing on the schedule for after the offer expired, and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, who supports the deal, adding the Sept. 29 date for a vote.

On Sept. 29, if the town does not accept LIPA’s offer, it will make sense for the courts and LIPA to assume the town will never budge.

But it is worth taking that time, one last time. — The Editorial Board