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

The entrance to Energy Harbor's Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
Associated Press
The entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

The passage of HB 6 this week not only gave Ohio’s two FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear plants a $150 million subsidy to remain open, it also keeps the communities and school districts relying 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% 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 Ohio lawmakers 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% 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 August 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.