OSWEGO, NY â€“ How much the owners of Nine Mile Point Unit I will pay and to whom wonâ€™t be known until its final assessment is set later this month. And, even after that, things might change.
Based on the current $600 million assessed value of the plant, the town of Scriba, Oswego County and the school district negotiated a one-year tax agreement worth $11 million with Constellation.
The funds were to be divided among the three; however, the school district was the one party to vote not to accept the deal.
The county of Oswego (and town of Scriba) are prepared to move forward with or without the school district.
â€œWhat we hope for is the district to reconsider and jump on board with us,â€ said Barry Leemann, chair of the Oswego County Legislature.
The school district, however, remains steadfast in its opposition.
The major sticking point â€“ money.
The school district, if it accepts the deal, would receive $6.35 million.
If the district continues to hold out, they could actually receive about $500,000 less, Leemann said.
According to school board president Sam Tripp, the board feels the plant should be paying more like $18 million instead of $11 million.
â€œWe havenâ€™t reversed our position.Â There is too much money left on the table,â€ Tripp said. â€œThe town and county benefit quite well from the agreement. Itâ€™s way out of proportion.â€
According to Kevin Caraccioli, Scribaâ€™s attorney, approximately 57 percent of the proposed tax money would have gone to the district under the agreement.
Tripp also expressed frustration that Constellation officials wonâ€™t come out and state what they believe the plantâ€™s value is.
Late last month, the plantâ€™s owners filed a tax grievance claiming market value of Nine Mile Point Unit I is $19 million.
If they go back on the tax rolls for the district they might well continue to fight their assessment, Tripp admits.
â€œIt would be a crap shoot,â€ he noted. â€œBut theyâ€™d have to pay too if we wound up fighting this in the courts. Anybody who believes that plant is only worth $19 million has a hole in their head.â€
School board member Fran Hoefer said he has been threatened and pressured since speaking out against the agreement at the last county legislature meeting.
â€œAll I have heard since this whole process began is how much money (the district) is going to get, and how much money (the county) is going to get, and how much money the town of Scriba is going to get,â€ he said the legislatureâ€™s public session. â€œBut at no time have I heard anyone discuss how much money the taxpayers are going to get in exchange for the risk of having a nuclear power plant in their backyard.â€
A Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement means more money for the town, county and district, â€œAnd a PILOT means the taxpayers get screwed,â€ he continued.
â€œHeâ€™s just spinning his wheels in the mud,â€ Leemann said of Hoefer. â€œIf he really represents the people, like he claims, he should step up and do whatâ€™s right for them. This is a fair agreement that will be a bridge to much bigger negotiations in the future.â€
As to Hoeferâ€™s claims the deal was done in secret, Leemann responded, â€œThis deal wasnâ€™t done behind closed doors. In fact, his board president was there.â€
Tripp disagrees with the town and countyâ€™s view.
â€œI donâ€™t know why they arenâ€™t holding their feet to the fire,â€ Tripp said. â€œI canâ€™t understand why they arenâ€™t fighting to make them pay what that plant is really worth.â€
Speaking at the recent legislature meeting, Caraccioli explained that Scriba (the assessing unit) is prepared to set the assessed value of the plant at a level that will generate an amount equal to or lower than the $6.35 million the district wouldâ€™ve received if the district approved the agreement.
Oswego Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist, at last monthâ€™s meeting, said the district â€œwas missing out on by voting negatively.â€
â€œThis tax agreement was simply a bridge to get us from a time that none of us as Oswegonians appreciated, we felt we didnâ€™t get a fair shake, to an opportunity to look at how all of us including Constellation Energy, the school district, the town of Scriba and Oswego County could work together to benefit from something that we all here enjoy and thatâ€™s having two nuclear power plants within our property. Iâ€™m disappointed in the outcome of whatâ€™s going to happen here this evening. We have an opportunity that I think weâ€™re losing out on,â€ he continued.