Appeals board decision could cost taxpayers millions - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Appeals board decision could cost taxpayers millions

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GRAND TOWER (WSIL) -- A recent decision by the Property Tax Appeal Board could cost local taxpayers millions of dollars.

The board decided Tuesday to lower the Grand Tower Energy Center's property tax bill retroactively for 2014 and 2015.

"It's not nothing," Jackson County Board Chairman Keith Larkin said. "It's significant, and we're going to have to look at that."

Larkin worries the county board will have to make some tough financial decisions in light of that decision.

"I think the ruling is a mistake. I hope that, if we decide to appeal it, that (the original assessment) is upheld," Larkin said. "But it's definitely going to be a hardship for the county, for the taxpayers in the county, for all of the services that we provide."

Ameren owned the power plant until 2014, when it sold the plant, along with two others in Illinois, to a financial firm called Rockland Capital.

The firm disagreed with the county's assessment of how much the property was worth, so it filed an appeal.

Tuesday's decision by the board lowered the assessed value of the plant, what property taxes are based off of, from $31.5 million to just $3.3 million.

MORE: The Property Tax Appeal Board's decision regarding the Grand Tower Energy Center

Larkin said that will cost Jackson County about $900,000, and it'll cost other taxing bodies as well.

"Their fire protection comes from a fire district that is now going to be severely underfunded," Larkin said. "They're on the river. We have levees to maintain. We have services to provide to make sure that businesses can operate and people can live their lives in the county, but it requires everyone to pay their fair share."

The Shawnee School District stands to lose the most, about $2.5 million according to the Jackson County Tax Assessor's office.

"(We) vehemently disagree with the PTAB's decision," superintendent Shelley Clover-Hill said. "We will appeal the decision to the Illinois Appellate Court by the end of the week and will continue the legal battle."

Larkin said the Jackson County State's Attorney's office is also working on its next legal steps. The taxing bodies have 30 days to file an appeal.

Messages seeking comment from Rockland Capital and its lawyer were not returned.

The company is also appealing its property tax assessment for 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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