"We are a company committed to doing business the right way," Vistra Senior Director of Community Affairs Brad Watson said in a conference call to local officials on Thursday, Aug. 29, describing a plan to negotiate a step-down of property tax payments for three years after the Coffeen Power Station closes.
Two weeks ago, Texas-based Vistra Energy announced Coffeen and three other coal-fire power plants will be closing before the end of the year. This year, Vistra Energy has already paid its $2.3 million property tax bill in Montgomery County, the largest paid in the county by about seven-fold, but a little less than half of the property taxes the plant paid just two years ago. The company should make its regularly-scheduled property tax payments next year–the 2019 tax year payable in 2020, but after that when the plant is retired, property taxes due in Montgomery County could drop by as much as 80 percent.
"Vistra is well aware the taxes it pays on its plants account for a significant percentage of the budget of many of the taxing entities and provide funding for essential services such as schools," Watson said. "Rather than local property tax payments in 2021 at each facility sharply dropping an average of 80 percent, Vistra wants to ease the impacts to the communities affected through a negotiated step-down of payments."
Both Vistra and elected officials who spoke during the conference call envision a combined negotiation that will begin by mid-September. The negotiation would involve tax years 2020 through 2022, payable in 2021, 2022 and 2023.
"This would give local taxing bodies certainty in planning their budgets," Watson said. We are committed to put a meaningful amount of dollars in this–not a token amount. This will cost our company millions of dollars. Nobody is forcing us to do this. We're doing this because it's the right thing to do."