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Clinton, Quad Cities officials to address industry panel about effects of planned Illinois nuclear closures

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 18th, 2016

CLINTON & CORDOVA, Ill. (October 18, 2016) – Local officials from Clinton and Quad Cities will participate in a University of Illinois forum today in Chicago to discuss the devastating impacts the closure of Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear stations will have on local governments, businesses and community services. The event is sponsored by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the AFL-CIO.

Absent legislative action during this fall’s veto session, the Clinton and Quad Cities facilities are scheduled for closure. Losing the facilities, according to a State of Illinois report, will result in the loss of 4,275 direct and indirect jobs; $1.2 billion in economic activity and $21 million in local property taxes.

Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell and Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Director Henry Marquard will be on hand to detail the local job and tax losses as well as the deep cuts to local schools, athletic programs and community services that will be necessary to offset the plant’s economic contributions.

Clinton Station

Clinton Station is the largest employer in the region surrounding the plant with nearly 700 full-time workers. The station contributes more than $13 million in property and payroll taxes each year. Without steep tax hikes, local schools, libraries and community programs would all face deep budget cuts and layoffs when the plant is shuttered in June of 2017.

Clinton School District

“The loss of the plant will significantly alter the financial outlook for the school district,” says district superintendent Curt Nettles. “The district receives approximately $8 million per year in property tax revenue from the power plant. That is right at 50% of the district’s revenue. The Board of Education will have to determine how they want to manage the loss of revenue because state aid will not make up for the loss. If the Board wants to maintain the current tax rate, significant cuts would have to be made to personnel and programs. The type of cuts would include teachers, which would increase class sizes. It will also include support staff and extra programs including sports. The only way to effectively reduce operating expenses is to reduce the amount of salaries and benefits.”

City of Clinton

With 700 highly-paid workers leaving the area and no longer spending their money locally, officials fear the negative economic impact will be widespread in the years after the plant shuts down. Followell expects to see a domino effect over the next couple years that could include lower sales tax revenues locally (which funds the City of Clinton), falling property values, and potential tax increases by all taxing entities trying to make up for the loss of revenue, which in turn will have a financial impact on those remaining.

“Can businesses continue to exist or will businesses want to come to Clinton or DeWitt County, knowing that all these taxing authorities might need to raise taxes because a lack of revenue with the plant gone?” Followell asked. “All of the taxing bodies will have to work together to make sure decisions on tax rates are made responsibly and the impact will be minimal and fair for all. We cannot let taxes make this situation worse and cause us to drive even more business and people from the area.”

Clinton’s Vespasian Warner Public Library

Joan Rhoades, director of Clinton’s Vespasian Warner Public Library, believes Clinton’s public library awaits a similar fate since more than 50 percent of its tax revenue comes from the power plant. Rhoades says the library is considering a reduction in staff and materials, the elimination of non-essential programs, and curtailed library hours.

DeWitt County

The impact of the plant closing will be severe for the county. All departments would be affected by the loss of revenue received from the power plant. The Board would have to evaluate services and staffing in each department. Job losses would be looming for more than 200 DeWitt County employees and another 300-plus total in McLean and Macon Counties.

Illinois state legislators could consider passing legislation to reward nuclear power plants for their environmental benefits during the upcoming sessions that end December 1. As you can see from the report, the State of Illinois will be effected in this decision, not just Clinton, DeWitt County or the Quad Cities. “IT IS ALL OF US”

Quad Cities Generating Station

Quad Cities is also the largest employer in the region, with more than 800 full-time workers. The station contributes approximately $8 million in property taxes each year. Local schools, libraries and community programs would be severely impacted if the plant is closed in June of 2018.

Rock Island County

“In Rock Island County, the economic impact would be devastating,” said Tara Barney, President and CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce. “The plant’s closure and reduction in tax payments, wages, and loss of jobs would make future economic development and business growth in Rock Island significantly more difficult. The county is already asking for a tax increase this election to offset our county’s current deficit. Exelon is the highest tax payer in the county, supports over 800 full-time jobs and typically more than 2,000 temporary positions during their annual refueling outages. Taxpayers, schools, local businesses – everyone will feel the impact if the plant closes.”

Cordova Library District

“Over 90% of our budget comes from the Quad Cities Station property tax payments,” said Sue Hebel, Library Director. “We simply cannot sustain that type of loss in our small community. Our Library Board will be faced with extremely difficult decisions regarding the future of the library. Exelon has also been a great community partner to the Library and many other Cordova businesses for many years. For many years, the plant has been the major sponsor of the Children’s Summer Reading Program that over 160 children participate in each year. Premature closure of the plant could result in very difficult decisions towards future operation of the Cordova Library if state legislators don’t act very quickly.”

Marquard and Followell will discuss these and other economic concerns with the industry panel at today’s forum. The event is part of NPRE's Leadership Speaker Series, intended to provide a forum for global leaders to present policies and platforms that shape the sciences of nuclear, plasma and radiological disciplines. For more information on the event, visit www.npre.illinois.edu

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