Kewaunee Power Station challenges property assessment

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

TOWN OF CARLTON - The owner of the Kewaunee Power Station is challenging an assessment of its property valuation that could double what it pays to the government.

In response, the Kewaunee County Board held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the situation.

While the nuclear power plant was operational, its owner, Dominion, did not pay property taxes on the generating facilities. Instead, it made a utility tax payment to the state. In turn, the state made payments to the town of Carlton and Kewaunee County.

Carlton town clerk Linda Sinkula said those payments totaled about $4 million annually.

In 2013, the town received $356,631, and the county got $713,262, according to Dominion's Mark Kanz.

State law calls for those payments to decrease by 20% per year over five years. However, the town could assess the property and levy regular property taxes. Any such payments would be deducted from the state's payment.

Carlton's assessment put the value of the property at $502,424,800, according to Sinkula. She estimated that would translate to a tax bill to Dominion of about $8 million annually combined to the county, town, public school and technical school district.

"There's value in that land and the land surrounding the plant," said Ron Heuer, the county chairman. "It's not zero, but it's not $502 million."

Dominion filed six objections to the assessments. In its challenge, the company said the total value of the property is $1,559,600 - and that three of the properties have no taxable value.

Tuesday night, the town set the contested appeals hearing for Sept. 20, Sinkula said. But she says the town would like to see a compromise sooner.

"Dominion won't come to the table," said Sinkula. "We can't bring somebody to the table that doesn't want to come there. That's the problem."

Kanz said Dominion wants to reach a negotiated settlement regarding the value of its property. He noted the company paid $219 million for the plant in 2005.

"We really would like to find some kind of an agreement that is equitable to everybody involved and doesn't involve the courts, as quickly as possible," said Kanz.

Neither side is optimistic that will happen before Friday. That's when the Department of Revenue will issue equalized value to every municipality in the state. That means the town's $502 million assessment of the property will be added to the county's value.