Nuclear plant looms in background of B-C-S tax vote

By: 
Larry Limpf

For a third time in a year, voters in the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District will decide whether or not they want to approve an income tax to help fund district operating expenses.
A 1 percent income tax will be one of only a handful of issues on the May 7 special election ballot in Ottawa County.
If passed, it would generate about $1.98 million annually and help replace revenues lost when the state approved a devaluation of property at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. The district is also facing the loss of tax revenues from the phase-out of a reimbursement program for districts that lost public utility tangible personal property taxes.
Guy Parmigian, district superintendent, said the school administration doesn’t expect the valuation of the power plant to rebound even if FirstEnergy Solutions chooses to keep it open. The company has said it plans to close the plant if the state or federal governments don’t offer a financial lifeline.
Ottawa County officials, including Cajon Keeton, B-C-S treasurer, have testified in support of House Bill 6, which is before a subcommittee in the state legislature.
The bill would create credits for companies that are certified as a clean air resource through the proposed Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. A credit will be available to companies for each megawatt hour of electricity produced.
To fund the credits, electric utility customers will be required to pay a monthly fee. But the bill exempts consumers from charges they are now paying for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Keeton told the committee the impact of devaluation has been felt by the entire community.
“The impact of a lower tax revenue stream can be illustrated by the Ohio Department of Taxation’s decision to approve a tax devaluation for FirstEnergy’s equipment at Davis-Besse from $184 million to $49 million in tax year 2018. The devaluation resulted in a combined loss of more than $6.75 million in tax revenue that would otherwise have flowed back to support our communities and working families,” he said.
The B-C-S administration is stressing to voters that a school income tax isn’t levied on Social Security or pension income, IRAs, 401Ks, interest, dividends or rental income.
B-C-S voters on Tuesday will also decide two renewal issues; a 1.2-mill issue used for permanent improvement projects and a 3.9-mill issue for operating expenses. Both levies would be in effect for five years if renewed.
Income tax requests were rejected in the B-C-S district in November 2018 and last May.

Portage Township
Elsewhere in Ottawa County, residents of Portage Township will decide a 2.5-mill, 5-year additional tax levy that will be used for equipment, staffing and other expenses of the fire department and emergency medical service crews.

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