Proposed plant a boon for district
If constructed, a natural-gas fueled electricity generating plant would eventually fire up the budget of the Tonganoxie school district.
"This particular industry would add about $200 million in assessed valuation, which would increase our capital outlay revenues from $200,000 to about $1 million a year in the capitol outlay fund alone," said Richard Erickson USD 464 superintendent.
The land under consideration by Duke Energy North America, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, Charlotte, N.C., is at 195th Street and Bauserman Road, in the extreme northcentral portion of the Tonganoxie school district.
Because of a 12-year tax abatement approved this year by the Kansas Legislature, the district would see no immediate increase in taxable property evaluation on the $200 million power plant.
But once the revenue did kick in, the results would be considerable, Erickson said.
"It would greatly help our capital outlay fund and also our local option budget by spreading the tax burden," Erickson said. "And it would lower people's property taxes as it relates to the LOB."
Erickson said the current $50 million assessed valuation within the district produces about $200,000 a year in the school district's capital outlay fund.
One county resident promoting the power plant is Charlie Gregor, executive vice president of Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce.
The increase in the tax base from the $200 million plant, Gregor said, will be the equivalent of the construction of 4,500 to 5,000 new $100,000 homes in the school district.
Chandler Morris, manager of project development for Duke, said a power plant is the type of investment that "can do fantastic things for the educational programs" for a school district.
"Duke has a history or working with the community and providing incentives and educational grants," Morris said.
Erickson said the school district, which has suffered from tight budgets during five years of declining enrollment, could benefit from a power plant.
"If it's something that's going to be environmentally safe, which it sounds like it will be, I think it will be a wonderful revenue boost for this school district," Erickson said. "It would really help all the taxpayers in spreading out the tax burden."