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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

Energy Bill Deal Spares Davis-Besse Plant -- And Local Schools For Now

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor generates power for consumers, but it's also a major economic engine for nearby community.  [Daniel J. Macy / Shutterstock]
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Habor, Ohio

The passage of House Bill 6 this week not only gave two FirstEnergy nuclear power plants a $150 million subsidy to remain open. It also keeps the communities and school districts that rely on those plants' taxes from taking an additional financial hit.

The new law will not generate any more money for the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District. But the district's treasurer says they won’t lose more funds than have already been cut, either.

Treasurer Cajon Keeton says the district lost 25 percent of its annual budget in 2017 when the Department of Taxation devalued the Davis-Besse plant, cutting nearly in half the plant's real estate tax payment to the district by $4.6 million.

The deal cut by lawmakers in Columbus keeps the plant open, saving jobs and the current tax revenue the district desperately needs, he said.

"So we're talking 700 jobs in our community; our parents our coaches, would be without a job," said Keeton.  "And we would have additional losses in revenue.  We still receive roughly 20 percent of our budget from Davis-Besse. So, that amount of money we would still be able to keep."

Since the devaluation of the plant, Keeton says the district has had to make cuts, including letting staff numbers dwindle by attrition and increasing student fees.

"We cut over $2 million from our budget," he said. "And we're going to continue to cut. For example, next year we're making drastic changes to our student transportation."

An emergency levy on the Aug. 6 ballot would generate $1.5 million annually for the BCS school district's operating expenses if passed. It would be the second levy in two years; voters already approved a property tax increase in 2018.

The new energy law will add a monthly 85-cent charge to Ohioan's electric bills through 2027.

darrielle.snipes@ideastream.org | 216-916-6404