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Marshall County tax plan meets resistance

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo
Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. – Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller supports the idea of using natural gas to generate electricity. He just doesn’t believe it’s a prudent financial move to give away millions of dollars of potential property tax revenue to make it a reality.

Miller said he will oppose a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement that Mounds-ville Power is seeking to build the proposed $615 million plant in Marshall County. The commission will vote on the agreement at a future date.

Miller stands alone in his opposition to the payment plan, as Commissioners Don Mason and Brian Schambach currently believe the proposed plant’s benefits in terms of new jobs and construction outweigh the potential loss of property tax revenue. Both commissioners said they will await further information from Moundsville Power before making a final decision.

Under the proposed PILOT plan, Marshall County would receive about $31 million in lease payments over 30 years from the proposed 549-megawatt plant, which is about $13 million less than county Assessor Christopher Kessler estimates would be collected if the plant paid normal property taxes.

The agreement’s terms call for the commission to take official ownership of the plant after it is constructed for $1, and Moundsville Power LLC would lease the facility from the county.

The plant would be sited on a 37.5-acre tract along the Ohio River, some of which is classified as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Although Mason, Miller and Schambach recently gave preliminary approval to the PILOT agreement, all emphasize they have not yet signed an actual lease with Moundsville Power. Therefore, any discussion of lease terms is preliminary.

Still, a divide appears to have formed on the commission over how to proceed. Miller said he also has concerns over the county’s ownership of the plant.

“I took an oath to do what is best for the county – and I feel that this is not best for the county,” Miller said. “I don’t want people to be surprised when I vote ‘no’ on it.

“I am not in favor of government ownership. I feel the state needs to fix the tax structure to make us competitive with other states.”

Mason said he is “still on board at this time” with the PILOT plan and also the county’s ownership of the facility…

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