The Ohio Department of Taxation has bad news for the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District. State tax officials have notified Ottawa County Auditor Jennifer J. Widmer that for the 2024 tax year, the Public Utility value of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant operated by Energy Harbor has plummeted from more than $68 million to just about $14 million.
That will demolish Davis-Besse tax revenues for the school district, a loss Widmer said will be $1.8 million.
The school district won’t be alone in trying to absorb tax revenue losses. The change in Public Utility value for Davis-Besse will result in more than a $300,000 loss to Carroll Township and to combined Ottawa County levies. It will also result in a $54,000 loss to the Oak Harbor Public Library.
In a telephone interview, Widmer said her office had no notification of the massive revenue loss for 2024.
“Not only does this decrease in value (of Davis-Besse) result in a loss of tax revenue to political subdivisions, but it will cause an increase to taxpayers in the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District,” said Widmer. She said it is not the first time the Public Utility value has gone down, “but it is the lowest value we’ve seen.”
The radical change in Public Utility value caught both Auditor Widmer and B-C-S School District Treasurer Cajon Keeton by surprise.
Keeton said his school district had been left totally in the dark, despite having just completed the Oak Harbor Intermediate School, a $14 million project, without having to rely on tax dollars.
“We’ll meet face to face next month, but until then we can’t ask questions,” said Keeton. “It just doesn’t seem possible. The State of Ohio put us in this mess, and they had better dig us out of here.”
There are several different types of state property taxes in Ohio. In the case of public utilities, there are real property values and public utility personal property values. The auditor’s office determines the value of the real property. The State of Ohio determines the personal property value.
Not only does this decrease in value result in a loss of tax revenue to political subdivisions, reported Widmer, but it will cause an increase to taxpayers in the Benton Carroll Salem School District. BCS has two fixed sum emergency levies which must bring in the voted sum of money.
Because of the value loss, these levies will increase .4 mills each, resulting in an overall .8 mill tax increase to each taxpayer. To put that in terms of dollars, taxpayers will see an approximate increase of $28 per $100,000 of appraised value.
Widmer noted that the elected officials of the involved districts are exploring every option to validate these public utility numbers. However, the law does not give them any oversight or verification right now.