Township faces financial emergency, power plant files tax appeal
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio —
Last week Wells Township officials were rocked by some news that could very well put them in a financial pit.
“Buckeye Power has appealed their tax evaluation at the Cardinal Plant,” said fiscal officer, Joe Matthews. “They wish to pay $3.5 million less in taxes per year than what they’ve been paying. And while their appeal is being heard they are legally allowed to pay the lower amount.”
Matthews went on to say, “We're going to have to make major cuts to the services we've been given-- road maintenance, police protection--this will also affect the budget for our fire department.”
Wells Township expects to take a major hit financially, to the tune of roughly $690,000-- essentially half of the Township’s annual budget.
“We are thinking that even if the voters are very nice and give us new levies to make up for the money, we would not see any of that money until April of 2020. So there’s 16 months we're going to have to get by with less money, " Matthews said.
And while the Township has been hit hard, Buckeye Local School District has been hit even harder.
NEWS9 spoke with Superintendent Kim Leonard Wednesday evening, and she says 50% of taxes paid by Buckeye Power go to the school.
Their plan is to meet with the Ohio Department of Taxation and legal advisers to figure out where to go from here.
In the meantime, Patrick Higgins, director of communications with Buckeye Power, released this statement:
"Consistent with the economic realities of the power generation industry, Buckeye Power recently filed for a reassessment of the current appraised value of the assets of two of the facility's three units. We continue to be in earnest discussions with the State of Ohio Department of Taxation to determine the best procedural path and method of implementation, and are in conversations with Buckeye Local School District, Wells Township, and Jefferson County authorities regarding the impact of the reassessment on our partners and neighbors in southeastern Ohio.
The Cardinal Power Plant is committed to remaining an engaged corporate citizen, community partner, and area employer, while delivering safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally friendly power for its 1 million electric cooperative member-consumers throughout Ohio."
The trustees did go into executive session Wednesday evening to sort through personnel matters following this news.