Utility Largest Taxpayer in Franklin County - The Missourian: Local News

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Utility Largest Taxpayer in Franklin County

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Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014 11:00 am | Updated: 2:29 pm, Fri Jul 18, 2014.

With recent news that Ameren’s Meramec power plant would be closed in less than 10 years, the thought of a similar shutdown of the Labadie power plant has served as a reminder of how much tax revenue the utility brings to the community.

Ameren is the largest single taxpayer in Franklin County, Collector of Revenue Linda Emmons noted.

“It’s huge,” Emmons said. “If they would leave here, it would be a great loss to all the (taxing) entities.”

There are no plans to close the Labadie plant anytime soon. But on the heels of the news that the Meramec plant would be closed, The Missourian wanted to look at what would happen if the local plant did shut down.

The fact that the Meramec plant will be 69 years old in eight years, is the biggest single reason it is set to close, an Ameren official was quoted as saying in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In contrast, the Labadie plant is not that old, dating back to the 1970s.

The announcement that the Meramec plant, which is in St. Louis County, will be closed was welcomed by a Sierra Club representative, who wants to see it happen sooner, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Environmentalists in Franklin County have also been outspoken against the Labadie power plant’s proposed coal ash landfill. Despite the criticism, taxing entities heavily depend on Ameren for tax revenue.

Ameren brought in more than $10.3 million in tax revenue to local government entities in 2013, according to information from Emmons.

Not only does it bring major tax revenue, but it is also a big employer, with the Labadie Energy Center providing 275 jobs.

School districts get about 75 percent of all the taxes and would be hit the hardest if Ameren’s Labadie plant closed, Emmons said.

The plant, including 473 acres and various facilities, has a market value of $36.35 million, according to the county assessor’s office. The assessed value (the value the property is taxed at) is $11.6 million, according to the assessor’s office.

If the Labadie plant closed, the taxing entities would be “hurting very bad,” Emmons said. Ameren paid $6.6 million in tax revenue to local school districts in 2013, Emmons said. About $3.5 million went to the Washington School District alone in 2013.

The taxing entities would likely have to raise their tax rates to make up for the loss of the Ameren plant if it closed, she said.

After the school districts, the next biggest recipients of tax revenue from Ameren are the fire districts, which got $936,925 in 2013, and then East Central College and St. Louis Community College, which got a total of $692,196.

All the cities across the county get a total of just over $500,000 in tax revenue from the plant.

2013 Tax Revenue

From Ameren

• State: $50,757.

• Franklin County: $249,642.

• Road Districts: $357,546.

• School Districts: $6.6 million.

• Hermann Hospital: $9,327.

• Fire Districts: $936,926.

• Colleges (East Central and St. Louis Community College): $692,196.

• Library (City of Washington, Scenic Regional Library): $135,579.

• Ambulance Districts: $367,709.

• Developmental Services of Franklin County: $168,336

• Cities: $114,969.

• Sewer Districts: $5,304.

• Assessor Fund: $49,286. (This helps run the county assessor’s office, Emmons said.)

• Collector’s Commission: $99,688. (Emmons said this is a withholding for collecting the tax, and she said the money goes to the county’s general revenue.)

• Surtax: $500,273. (Surtax is a tax on commercial property and is disbursed to all the taxing entities.)

Upgrades Add Value

Ameren keeps investing in its Labadie plant.

For instance, the company has embarked on a $170 million project to add new equipment to reduce emissions of particulate matter and mercury from the plant. This is being done to comply with the new EPA rules.

Once the project is complete, the plant’s particulate matter emissions will be 75 percent cleaner than they are now, officials have said.

Ameren is also in the process of obtaining approval of a coal ash landfill to store the byproduct that is left over after coal is burned to generate electricity. Phase I of that project is expected to cost $27 million.

“This facility is one of the reasons our rates continue to be lowest of any investor-owned utility in Missouri and more than 16 percent below the Midwest average,” said Warren Wood, Ameren’s vice president of external affairs and communications.

It provides 40 percent of the electricity to the St. Louis metro area,

Wood added that the Labadie plant “will be an important part of our resource mix to benefit customers for years to come.”

Editor’s Note:

The Missourian was unable to ascertain whether the figures above from the county were just for the Labadie plant or included Ameren’s total for all of its facilities in the county. At press time, we had not heard back from county officials. However, most of Ameren’s property assessments in the county are at the Labadie plant.

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