Spread Tax Revenue From Power Plants Across Counties

Dear Editor:

In Saturday’s Augusta Chronicle there was a front-page article which noted that Georgia Power’s tax bill in Burke County had substantially increased due to the increasing value of the nuclear power plant there.  The article further noted that Plant Vogtle now accounts for 67% of that county’s tax digest!  The citizens of Burke County enjoy among the lowest taxes of any county in Georgia and yet have huge tax revenue which enables them to have the best schools and other public amenities.

While we are happy for the citizens of Burke County for their remarkable windfall, we are deeply saddened for the numerous other counties of Georgia – particularly the rural counties – where citizens pay electrical rates which include reimbursement to Plant Vogtle’s owners for the taxes they pay to Burke County, and yet get none of the benefits from these large tax payments.

In 2008 a proposal was made here in Edgefield County to ask our legislative delegation to introduce, and get passed, legislation which would mandate that taxes paid for electrical generating plants be spread across all counties of the State.  At that time, the then Edgefield County School Board declined to contribute $5,000 to initiate a lobbying effort to get this legislation passed even though estimates suggested that the county would receive $1.7 million in additional annual tax revenue from this legislation.

Bills were introduced in both the South Carolina House and Senate for this legislation, but now four years have passed and nothing has come of this effort.  With forty-three counties out of the forty-six counties in the state standing to benefit from this legislation (to the substantial detriment of the other three counties who have nuclear power plants), it is amazing to me that our legislative delegation has not been able to get this legislation passed.

I suggest that citizens who are interested in lowering their property taxes and having additional revenue for county and school operations contact their State Senator and House Members and ask them why this legislation has not been passed, and what will be necessary to make it happen.  South Carolina citizens should take note that each time they pay their ever-increasing electrical bills, they are they are making substantial contributions to the tax revenue of Fairfield, Oconee and Cherokee Counties.  Does anyone think that this is fair?

Very truly yours,

Bettis C. Rainsford