Thursday, May 16, 2002

Decision could cost Cinergy

Tax board alters Zimmer plant's value

By Mike Boyer,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A group of Clermont County taxing authorities has prevailed over Cinergy Corp. in the first case tried by the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals over the real-estate value for an electric generating plant.

        The decision could eventually mean several million dollars in additional tax revenues for the New Richmond Village Schools, the U.S. Grant Vocational School District, Washington Township and the City of Moscow.

        But any additional tax revenues, plus interest and penalties, would only be paid after the lengthy appeals process is completed, said Phil Brown, Clermont County deputy auditor. Cinergy can appeal the decision by the three-member, quasi-judicial Board of Tax Appeals to either the Ohio Supreme Court or the district court of appeals.

        Steve Brash, Cinergy spokesman, said the utility was still reviewing the 50-plus page decision filed Friday and hasn't decided whether to appeal.

        At issue is the real-estate value of the 260-acre William H. Zimmer generating plant in 1997 and 1998.

        The utility argued that the 1,300-megawatt electric generating plant should be valued at $34 million, while the Clermont County authorities argued that the value should be $157 million. The board upheld the $157 million figure.

        David C. DiMuzio, the Cincinnati attorney for the school districts, said the decision could be precedent setting.

        “This is the first of several cases before the board on this issue,” he said. Next month, the board is to hear arguments over the 1999-01 valuation of the Zimmer plant. Another case involves an Adams County plant, and the board is to hear arguments next fall on the Perry nuclear plant on Lake Erie.

        Cinergy argued that the real-estate value defined by state law is the value of the land plus structures.

        “We don't think it should be valued differently as an electric generating facility,” he said.

        Cinergy argued that Zimmer's boilers and generating equipment are tangible personal property, not real property under Ohio law, he said.


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