Debate Continues Over Gas Facility

McMechen resident Fred Brautigan is not sure Marshall County officials should forgo millions in potential tax revenue from the planned $615 million natural gas power plant, but County Commissioner Don Mason said such provisions are necessary to develop the facility.

Citing a recent report in The Intelligencer in which County Assessor Christopher Kessler estimated the proposed Moundsville Power LLC plant would normally generate about $44.28 million in property taxes over 30 years for the county – and $185.4 million for the Marshall County Board of Education during the same time frame – Brautigan asked commissioners Tuesday why they believed adopting a Payment in Lieu of Tax plan was a better deal than allowing the normal taxes.

“They are not going to come if they have to pay these taxes,” Mason said of Moundsville Power, a private investment firm based in Buffalo, New York. “This is an opportunity to utilize the gas in this area, rather than putting it in a pipeline and shipping it off to Louisiana.”

If Moundsville Power is able to proceed with building the 549-megawatt plant on a 37.5-acre piece of property along the Ohio River, the PILOT plans shows the firm would pay the county commission as much as $39.29 million to lease the property over 30 years. However, the company will receive an annual discount of $10,000 for every one of the 30 full-time jobs it maintains at the facility, reducing the likely total payment to the county over 30 years by $9 million.

Schambach said commissioners engaged in several negotiations with Moundsville Power officials. He said the $10,000 per employee, per year, provision provides an incentive for the company to hire workers.

“These are nice, high-salary positions,” Schambach said.

Brautigan then asked commissioners if they would allow county residents to vote directly on the matter during the November general election via a ballot issue. However, Mason assured Brautigan commissioners are not going to sign a lease agreement with Moundsville Power until the developer resolves several issues, including environmental cleanup and indemnification from liability.

Brautigan also cited that the board of education will give up about $181 million worth of potential property taxes over 30 years for the plant’s construction according to Kessler’s calculations, but Mason said this is not the right way to look at the issue because the school district is getting almost nothing for the land in question.

“You can’t lose something you never had,” Mason said.

Following the meeting, Andrew Dorn, managing partner with Moundsville Power, said company officials are meeting with residents in the Washington Lands section of the county to discuss the project’s impact.