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Local

Nuke plant appeal: On each side of the middle ground, disappointment

The Ogle County Board of Review disappointed both sides of a tax appeal last week and struck the middle ground when it set the value of Exelon's Byron Generating Station. After a hearing arguments from attorneys for Exelon and the Byron School District on Thursday, the board set the plant's value at $482.4 million – the same as a year ago.
The Ogle County Board of Review disappointed both sides of a tax appeal last week and struck the middle ground when it set the value of Exelon's Byron Generating Station. After a hearing arguments from attorneys for Exelon and the Byron School District on Thursday, the board set the plant's value at $482.4 million – the same as a year ago.

OREGON – The Ogle County Board of Review disappointed both sides of a tax appeal last week and struck the middle ground when it set the value of Exelon's Byron Generating Station.

After a hearing arguments from attorneys for Exelon and the Byron School District on Thursday, the board set the plant's value at $482.4 million – the same as a year ago.

Exelon's attorney Terry Moritz argued that the assessed value of the plant should be $238 million, while Josh Whitt, representing the Byron School District, presented information setting the value at $609 million.

"I'm disappointed. I thought our attorneys made the case that the plant's value is $609 million," Byron School Superintendent James Hammack said. "However, I respect the work of the Board of Review – that's a tough decision."

Byron Station Communications Manager Paul Dempsey said Exelon is willing to pull its weight but wants fair treatment.

"Exelon Generation is always committed to paying its fair share of property taxes. Like every taxpayer, Exelon Generation expects fair treatment in the collection of taxes to support the needs of the county," he said. "We are open to entering an agreement to resolve the property tax issues for Byron Generating Station."

Exelon paid more than $32 million in real estate taxes in 2015 to 11 taxing bodies, which besides the Byron School District, includes Ogle County, Rockvale Township, Oregon School District, Oregon Park District, Byron Fire District, Rock Valley College, Byron Public Library District, Byron Museum District, Byron Forest Preserve District, and Kishwaukee Community College.

The Byron School District received the largest share – $18.2 million.

Ogle County Supervisor of Assessment Jim Harrison set the plant's value at $482.4 million last fall after the BOR chose that amount at a tax appeal hearing in January 2015.

The assessment set in 2015 affects taxes paid in 2016.

"Not a whole lot has changed since last year," Harrison said.

He said the plant's 20-year operating license extension came in November, a month after the assessment was set.

Board Chairman Joe Yockey said the three-member board based its decision on the assessed value of the Exelon's Braidwood generating station, which is considered a "twin" of Byron and is of similar age.

A 7-year agreement between Exelon and the taxing bodies affected by the Braidwood plant set the value at $455 million for 2014, $445 million for 2015 and 2016, $455 million for 2017, $460 million for 2018, $465 million of 2019, and $470 million for 2020.

Officials on both sides declined to comment on whether Exelon and the taxing bodies are currently negotiating a multiyear agreement for the Byron plant's value.

Exelon and the Byron School District, which draws the largest share of taxes from the plant, have appealed the board's decision for 2012, 2013, and 2014 to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which recently set an April date to hear the the 2012 appeal. Yockey said that decision, once it comes, will be helpful in the future.

"With the upcoming hearing at PTAB, we can use that number to get an agreement on the value," he said.

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