OTTAWA COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - It seems like there has been nothing but bad news for the Benton-Carroll-Salem school district in Oak Harbor. But recently, the district finalized state funding to help bridge a revenue gap.
Last Summer, when rumors began swirling that the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant could be devalued or shut down, local state officials began working to make sure that state funding could be made available if that happened.
State Senator Randy Gardner and State Representative Steve Arndt added the "BCS Bridge" amendment to house bill 98 last Summer.
The amendment said if a school district loses more than 50 percent of its tax revenues, they can be recommended for additional state funding.
Then in October, the Davis-Besse plant d ropped in property tax valuation from $184 million to $49 million. With the House Bill now passed, the BCS school district will receive $5.5 million over three years to fill some of the revenue shortfall.
But the district still needs to have two May levies pass to generate a combined $3.4 million to cover the total 23 percent loss in funds.
"The goal of the bridge was sort of to get us to our new reality. And one of the things that it will do is it will kick in for three-year period and that will give us 1.8 million dollars a year," aid BCS treasurer Cajon Keeton. "And the important thing about that is we're going out for 2 levies on the ballot. We're still going to need those levies on the ballot, because the income tax for example will take 18 months to fully collect."
But, there was more fallout in Ottawa County as FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy over the weekend in Akron. The subsidiary sells power to retail and wholesale customers primarily in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions.
This came days after the company announced it intended to shut down three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania by 2020, including Davis Besse.
BCS school officials said someone has to be operating that plant if the district wants to continue serving students at this level.
"You know, we're still hoping that either something at the State or Federal level could come through with some sort of help. To keep that plant, if it's not First Energy that owns it, to keep someone operating that plant within our community," said Keeton.
Now with the bankruptcy announcement, it seems FirstEnergy will continue on the course of exiting the nuclear power industry.
But State Senator Randy Gardner wants to remind northwest Ohioans that bankruptcy actually will help first energy manage unpaid debts, which could help keep the power plant viable, or at least more lucrative to a potential buyer.
"While some people believe that the announcement of potential bankruptcy is the beginning of the end, I see it as a beginning of a new set of options that we have to keep Davis-Besse operating. Perhaps under a new owner," said Gardner.
Senator Gardner said while people want definitive answers now, this process is a complicated one; and will take years to fully play out.