Edison Local School officials are keeping a watchful eye on its pocketbook amid the pending closure of Energy Harbor’s W.H. Sammis Plant this summer.
Company officials formally announced a shutdown was slated for July with roughly 140 employees to be laid off starting in March. The plant has been a mainstay since first operating as Ohio Edison in 1960, then it merged to become FirstEnergy nearly 40 years later. It was later renamed Energy Harbor after emerging from bankruptcy in 2020. The financial impact of the plant’s closure is not yet fully known, but for now Edison plans to take an estimated $2.3 million hit to its budget starting in 2024. Superintendent Bill Beattie said that figure is reflected in the loss of some property tax but the exact impact has not been realized.
“We knew this was coming. It was just a matter of when,” Beattie said. “We don’t know the amount yet and we’re in a situation where we’re still in a holding pattern.”
He said the $2 million figure does not take all of the company’s land parcels into account and it will remain under review, but he was hopeful that funding from the Rover Pipeline will help cushion the blow. The pipeline company has been in an ongoing legal battle in an attempt to reduce its 2019 property tax valuation by $2 billion, but the matter remains on appeal.
“If the ruling on the appeal in our favor, that will benefit us,” Beattie said. “Until the dust settles, we don’t know what it’s going to amount to and when that will be settled.”
The district has been monitoring the situation since Energy Harbor first announced plans last year to deactivate or sell the plant and have attempted to adjust their five-year forecast accordingly, but they still must determine the full effect on real estate and public utility property taxes in the future. He commented that not only the district, but also Jefferson County and the Village of Stratton will be affected.
However, Beattie said Edison has faced fiscal strife before and rebounded successfully.
“We’ve had financial issues in the past but we’ve flourished and have new facilities,” he concluded. “We’re just going to have to be frugal and tighten our belts. There are no plans to do anything drastic but we need to make sure that the financial decisions we make for the district will get us back there again.”