Residents Fear Plant Closure's Impact on School Money

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CHAMOIS - Monday is the last day the Chamois power plant will open its doors. Residents in the small town fear the impact the closure could have on money the schools get. The plant brought Osage County R-1 schools more than $66,000 in property tax revenue, but when it closes, it will result in loss of revenue over time.

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The current tax rate in Chamois is $4.25 and the maximum tax rate is $4.71. The Osage County school board has the authority to raise the levy to its maximum, which would increase tax revenue to more than $59,000. The loss of tax revenue would be approximately $7,000.

Osage County High School Superintendent Mike Bumgarner said the school district is not in jeopardy.

"The short term implication of the power plant closure is minimal with the school district, although we'll miss them as a community partner, but the taxing implication won't be fully felt for a year or two for the school district," said Bumgarner.

Osage County R-1 High school receives approximately $5,300 in state aid per student. Bumgarner said the school is up 15 to 20 students from the previous school year and in a statement posted online, "The goal of future administration and school boards must be to monitor financial trends and continue to make budgetary adjustments in order to insure one single event does not result in the closure of our school district."

With an amendment allowing school boards to raise the tax levy only equal to the consumer price index, Osage County schools are able to do so.

Osage County Assessor Ross Seals said there will be a loss of revenue within the community. However, "The town won't see a change in revenue taxes till 2014," Seals said. Seals said the next assessment would be in 2015.