UPDATE: Here is audio of the Somervell County Commissioners Court from October 28, 2013, part clipped of Precinct 2 Commissioner John Curtis discussing this.
Previously today we discussed the rumblings over the Energy Future Holdings board meeting which may be held on Friday and whether this would be *the* announcement of bankruptcy. I talked to the county appraiser who told me that, indeed, EFH would have the option to withhold property tax under a corporate bankruptcy filing and, if they did it in 2014, they could forego two years of property taxes. EFH pays 78 percent of property taxes while Somervell County residents pay 22 percent (2012 numbers). According to Wes, Somervell County has known about the potential to lose one year's worth of property taxes and have not been concerned, because they have enough reserve, etc to weather it. It apparently only concerned them recently when the possibility of losing 2 years of property taxes reared its head. I have to believe, though, that Somervell County commissioners are simply using this as a tool to try to scare people rather than warn, with the intent to NOT get back the hospital but keep an extra taxing hospital district (more about that on another post). (Have to wonder if this is being taken seriously by the Somervell County commissioners, WHAT ARE THEY DOING ABOUT IT?) EFH (or whoever takes it over) ceasing to pay would not only give them a black eye and undo all the money Luminant has spent on good press via their lobbyists who have, ahem, a good relationship with the Texas Legislature. This irresponsibility would also open Somervell County to safety and environmental concerns that could undermine the idea of running nuclear power plants at all.
Let's consider this. Forget whether a hospital, EMS, Fire services, library, much less golf course, amphitheater, or expo center is funded by our corporate welfare. ALL of it would not be able to be funded. Repeating, ALL. As one commissioner told me, this would be the "Brink of the Cliff" and the county would not have money to continue operating. Who would then be paying for road repairs getting TO Comanche Peak? The roads are supposed to be maintained by Somervell County as a required duty, but would that mean all taxes would go up for Somervell citizens? Where would the emergency services or fire services come from if an accident occurred on the site? Or a fire? Or citizens needed to be evacuated? Radioactive spills that damage the environment? What if our water supply was contaminated? Such scenarios would make Fukusima look like a picnic.
Nuclear power corporations are not the same thing as, say, a garment factory or slaughterhouse or even a sweatshop. The potential for an extremely serious accident is built in, otherwise, there wouldn't be an NRC.GOV. IF EFH or their creditors are considering NOT paying property taxes until the end of a bankruptcy resolution, which could take up to 5 years, they would show themselves to be more than irresponsible.
And don't think that this only would affect Somervell County residents. An accident would affect the DFW metroplex and could have devastating consequences. You live in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Waco? You have skin in this game.
IF EFH or whoever the creditors are seriously think they might still operate Comanche Peak while NOT PAYING PROPERTY TAXES TO THE COUNTY, they need to be told to STOP operating CP now and not expose PEOPLE to the dangers of improperly running a potentially dangerous corporation.
I'm not positive at this point how seriously Somervell County takes the potential lack of property taxes as I entertain the possibility that they are using the Elephant in the Room to try to defeat the dissolution of the Somervell County hospital district petition. Not only is that nonsensical but it's laughable.