County Legislators Approve Moving Forward On Nuke Deal Without The School District

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature approved an intermunicipal agreement between the county and town of Scriba regarding Nine Mile Point Unit I and Unit II nuclear power plants.

The agreement allows the parties to continue with the appraiser without the Oswego City School District, according to Phil Church, county administrator.

Last summer, the county and town approved an $11 million tax deal with Unit 1.

Under terms of the pact, Scriba would have received $544,500, the county $4.1 million and more than $6 million for the school district. However, the district rejected the deal; the other two approved it.

The district filed a petition opposing the agreement. It was later dismissed by a Supreme Court justice.

The Scriba assessors set a value of $600 million, based on an appraisal of the plant by George Sansoucy LLC.

Thursday night, the legislature approved

They have retained the law firm of Duane Morris to represent their common interests in the property tax negotiations with Constellation Energy, the plants’ owner.

The district’s litigation against the town and county, which is presently on appeal, makes collective bargaining “problematic,” the resolution noted, adding, the district suspended the former intermunicipal agreement in December 2010.

According to Thursday’s agreement, the parties agree that the former intermunicipal agreement with the Oswego City School District is cancelled.

In a separate move, the legislators agreed to pay Sansoucy a fixed rate of $25,000, payable upon delivery of the draft summary appraisal report.

The fee shall be paid 65 percent by the county and 35 percent by the town.

Former legislator and current Oswego school board member Fran Hoefer addressed the lawmakers prior to the vote.

The recent power plant disaster in Japan proves “that nuclear power plants are extremely dangerous, extremely dangerous!” Hoefer said. “We have three of them in our back yard! These plants are all past their original life span.”

When, as a board member, he approved the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) for the power plant, it was one of the biggest mistakes of his life, he said.

In the 11 years since, Oswego County property taxes have skyrocketed, according to Hoefer.

Last year the district and the county hired one of the best nuke plant assessors in America to place a value on Nine Mile I, he said.

That value was $600 million and “the assessors in Scriba unilaterally reduced that value to $280 million. Why did they do that? Why did the Scriba assessors reduce a reasonable, fair, logical, expensive to obtain assessment by more than 50 percent?” he asked.

The legislature is in a position to significantly reduce the property tax burden on county taxpayers, he said.

“You people are in a position to make this county one of the most affordable places in New York State to live,” he told the legislators. “You people can reverse the out-migration of jobs and businesses in this county. But, instead, you’re all falling all over yourselves to give a property tax deal to a dangerous, foreign owned nuclear power company that is exporting the profits to France! What’s up with that?”

He urged them to set a fair valuation on the nuclear plants “and make them pay their fair share.”

“PILOT negotiations conducted behind closed doors, cloaked in secrecy, without public participation have put us in the economic decline we are currently facing,” Hoefer said. “Please put a fair value on our nuke plants and put them on the tax roll!”

Earlier Thursday, speaking for the district, Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist told Oswego County Today: “The Oswego City School District is still very interested in working with the town of Scriba and the county toward a mutual agreement with municipalities and Constellation Energy. We are optimistic that all parties will find common ground that will benefit the school district residents.  We have been in an intermunicipal agreement for approximately 18 months and we welcome the opportunity to work in the interests of all taxing jurisdictions in the future.”