OSWEGO, NY â€“ At its meeting Tuesday, the Oswego County Legislatureâ€™s Nuclear Plant Tax Status Committee approved two resolutions dealing with Nine Mile Point Unit I.
The first: Adopting County of Oswego Local Law Number 3 of 2010 â€œA Local Law Granting an Exemption from Taxation Provided for Under Real Property Tax Law Â§485 and Â§490 Regarding Nine Mile Point, Unit I, A Nuclear Powered Electric Generating Facility.â€
The second: Authorizing the Chairman to Execute a Tax Agreement on Certain Terms with Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, LLC Pursuant to Real Property Tax Law Â§485.
They also approved granting flexibility to allow the town of Scriba and the county to negotiate an agreement with Constellation (owner of Unit I) even if the Oswego City School District Board of Education continues to oppose the agreement.
The school district, the third party in the taxing arrangement, voted against the one-year PILOT deal last month.
Scribaâ€™s town board unanimously passed the tentative agreement about a week before that.
A public hearing regarding the tentative agreement will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, prior to the Oswego County Legislatureâ€™s regular meeting.
Prior to Tuesdayâ€™s vote, Oswego County Administrator Phil Church described three possible scenarios the county could be facing.
One was all three entities approving (should the school district reverse itself) the deal and being treated equally; each receiving 275 percent more than what they currently get from Unit I.
This would also avoid the expense of tax litigation and possible court-ordered refunds, he pointed out.
The agreement would have the facility assessed at $600 million, up from the current $187 million.
â€œThat places the county, the Oswego school district, the town of Scriba and the Mexico School District in good negotiation position going forward on negotiations with Nine Mile 1 for next year and the more valuable plants, Nine Mile II and FitzPatrick,â€ he told the committee.
The second scenario considers that all three entities voted against the PILOT.
That would place the facility back on the tax rolls at $600 million.
However, Church pointed out, Constellation has filed a grievance claiming Unit Iâ€™s value is $19 million.
â€So, we would end up in a tax certiorari proceeding,â€ Church said; all the while negotiations continued between all of the parties.
Oswego County Attorney Dick Mitchell wouldnâ€™t put a price tag on the litigations.
But, he said, the cost would be â€œconsiderableâ€ and could go on for â€œseveral years.â€
The refunds by law are entitled to a rate of interest set by law; itâ€™s much higher than what market interest is, he informed the committee.
â€œThatâ€™s an additional payment over and above the tax refund,â€ he said.
The town and county would temporarily receive the same amount of money as proposed in scenario one, according to Church, adding that the school district would temporarily see an increase.
All three entities might be forced to pay for the certiorari proceedings, Church said, adding if the court rules in favor of Constellation, they would have to return a portion of the money.
Of the three, the school district would likely bear the largest portion of the litigation and refund expenses, he said.
This would also place everyone in a poor negotiating position, he added.
The third scenario is the current situation with the school district as the lone opposition.
If things play out that way, Scriba and the county would receive the same as with the first scenario. They have the authority to enter into an agreement with Constellation on their own, Church noted.
â€œSo what weâ€™re talking about is a scenario where the plant is tax exempt for town and county but still taxable for the school district,â€ Church explained.
The school district would receive â€œthe same or less,â€ Church said.
Also, the state could assign its own value to the plant and skew the equalization rates so that the district and parts of the county may not receive tax cuts they expected, he warned.
â€œIn each scenario, if played out logically here, there is very little chance that the school district can end up with more money than they seem to feel they are going to have,â€ he added.
The best thing, for all parties involved, he said, would be accepting the deal.
Kevin Caraccioli, town of Scribaâ€™s attorney, told the committee, â€œWeâ€™re still prepared to work and convince the school district that scenario one is the most beneficial scenario that we can all join; itâ€™s the most benefit to the entire community. Weâ€™re prepared to work with the county and the school district to come up with the best plan.â€