State officials explain change in Kewaunee Power Station's value

The shuttered Kewaunee Power Station nuclear plant is seen, May 9, 2014. (WLUK/Laura Smith)

KEWAUNEE COUNTY - The Department of Revenue says it is taking unprecedented steps in changing the assessed value of the shutdown Kewaunee Power Station.

Monday night, FOX 11 first reported about Town of Carlton officials accusing the state of illegally changing the plant's value.

A town-hired assessor put the plant's value at $502 million. Dominion, the plant's owner, claimed the value of the building and property is only $1.5 million. Because the two sides couldn't agree before the state's August 15th deadline, the $502 million value was certified for this year.

However, Monday night, ten days after the deadline, the two sides signed an agreement reducing the plant's value at $10 million.

If you live in Kewaunee County, your property tax bill could change by hundreds of dollars depending on what value goes on the books.

Under state law, the power station didn't have to pay property taxes when it was operational. That's why it is now being assessed.

The Department of Revenue says it’s trying to help Kewaunee County taxpayers in changing the value of the shutdown Kewaunee Power Station.

FOX 11 had several questions for the department after town of Carlton officials accused the state of acting illegally Monday night.

“The procedures that other citizens must follow have been ignored, because the property owner is Dominion,” said Linda Sikula, the clerk for Carlton.

Carlton officials say the Department of Revenue shouldn't change the assessed value of the nuclear plant because its August 15th deadline has passed.

The Department of Revenue declined FOX 11's request for an interview. However, the department's communications director, Nicole Anspach, explained the change in value in an e-mail.

Anspach wrote, “we consider this an extraordinary circumstance.”

She also wrote “the department is taking steps to amend equalized values for taxing jurisdictions within Kewaunee County due to the magnitude of this change and desire to avoid adverse impacts on taxpayers.”

So what would be the impact on taxpayers? If the plant is valued at $502 million dollars, you're next bill would be lower, possibly by hundreds of dollars. In a few years, if it went to court, a judge could side with Dominion's value, meaning you'd have to pay back those years of tax savings and your bill could skyrocket in one year.

If this new agreement goes through, and the plant's value is $10 million, tax bills are expected to stay about the same as what they have been.

“In the end, it's really the best the town or Dominion could really hope for,” said Mark Kanz, a spokesperson for Dominion.

“I think it's kind of a dirty deal for all the people of Kewaunee County,” said Mark Schmeling, a member of Carlton’s board of review.

FOX 11 also talked with Department of Revenue Deputy Secretary Jack Jablonski on the phone. He told FOX 11 the department is working with legal counsel to recertify the plant's value. He believes that would be a first in the state Department of Revenue's history.