County, school district impacted by closing power plant

Joppa power plant to close sooner than expected

JOPPA, Ill. (KFVS) - The timeline to shut down the Joppa Power Plant sped up.

Vistra Energy changed the closing date to settle an environmental complaint brought by the Sierra Club.

The Joppa plant first opened in 1952 and currently employs more than a hundred people.

Now, county and school leaders brace for the economic impact the shutdown will have on Massac County.

“This is not good for this area, said Gary Hamm, the Massac County supervisor of assessments. “It’s going to have a devastating impact.”

He said Vistra property assessment dropped in the last year.

“Right now, this last year Vistra challenged their Assessment and my board of review agreed to drop it from 11 million to down to 9 million.” says Hamm

However, Hamm said other taxpayers in the county may feel the biggest burden when the plant closes

“From the property tax standpoint, it will be a gradual thing because again Vistra, I think in good faith, is wanting to work with taxing districts. The biggest impact is going to be the employees and that part of it and the families that are going to be effected,” said Hamm.

Hamm also said the Joppa-Maple Grove School District will feel the load of the plant closing.

According to Hamm, the school district received 65-70 percent of the tax revenue from Vistra.

“The school district is going to be the one entity that is impacted the largest because of the money they receive. And so, there’s a lot of things that we as a school board need to look at and we just need to consider everything,” said Denise Meyer, who was just recently elected to the Joppa Maple Grove School District.

She said annually the schools receive $500,000 in tax revenue just from the plant.

As a newly elected school board member, she knows this is going to be difficult to make up.

“The difference will be made up on the taxpayers in this district and we’ve only got about 400 taxpayers,” said Meyer.

She added that a lot of people in their district are on fixed income and they cannot absorb the difference as taxpayers.

And Hamm gives this advice to the taxpayers of the area: “The most important thing here is all the taxing districts and the stakeholders need to be involved in this so it’s not all felt at once.”

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