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County agencies prepare for sweeping budget cuts

The Adams County Health Department is one of the county agencies that will lose funding when DP&L goes through with their vow to close the county’s coal-based power plants.

Specter of shuttered power plants and lost tax revenue leads to worries over county’s future –

Story by Patricia Beech –
Photo by Mark Carpenter –

For over 40 years the Stuart and Killen Stations have provided jobs and economic resources to Adams County’s communities. In turn, residents and local government have come to rely on the two coal-fired plants as the driving force behind the county’s economy.
If DP&L follows through with their plan to shut down the plants in June 2018, the economic stability they provided will soon become a thing of the past, and Adams County could be left without any sort of replacement for the financial resources they provided.
The loss of those resources, according to Adams County Commissioner Brian Baldridge, will be felt across-the-board.
“The effects of the potential closings will be wide-ranging throughout the county government and our school districts,” Baldridge said. “Also troubling is the additional loss of $35,000,000 in payroll that is spent and circulated throughout the region by DP&L employees – that loss alone will negatively impact every business and individual in the county.”
The Commissioners are hoping to convince DP&L to delay closing the plants so that local departments and agencies have more time to prepare for the sweeping budget cuts.
Adams County Auditor David Gifford provided to The Defender a list of the county agencies and departments that will be affected by the plant closings and subsequent loss of tax revenue.
The county General Fund, which supports multiple departments including the Sheriff’s Office, the Common Pleas Court, the Prosecutor’s office, and the Recorder and Treasurer’s offices will lose $768,952 which constitutes a 32% decrease in tax revenue and a 10% decrease of total estimated revenue.
The two county townships housing the power plants will also experience deep budget cuts: Sprigg will lose $159,743 and Monroe $246,794 annually.
The Adams County Ohio Valley School District (ACOVSD) will see a decrease of $108,165 while the Manchester Local School District (MLSD) will take an even harder hit losing $5,661,482 annually. MLSD Treasurer Karen Ballengee said the loss would eventually leave the district “dead in the water”.
Senior Citizens Services can expect $138,012 to be cut from their annual budget – which Mary Stout, Director of the Senior Citizens facility in West Union, says “will definitely effect consumers who use our home and transportation services.”
Children’s Services will have an estimated $388,761 cut from their yearly budget; Adams County Developmental Disabilities will lose $308,950 annually; the Ambulance/EMS agency loss will be $394,329; and the Hope Van funding will be cut $30,860 annually.
Adams County Libraries can expect a $197,164 cut – a 34% decrease in funding. Library Director Nick Sloan said, “The library Board of Trustees is working to formulate a plan to deal with the cuts and minimize the effect on the community as much as possible.”
The Health Department, which provides a wide range of health and environmental services to the community will lose an estimated $98,580 annually. Director Dr. William Hablitzel said the department would “look very closely at the budget and do what is necessary to exist within our means.” He said his greatest concern was that DP&L would seek a devaluation of their generating equipment.
“I’m concerned about further devaluation at the plant as was done when Duke sold out,” Hablitzel added. “If they go forward and revalue the rest of the plant that will be a pretty big hit for all of us. I think what worries everyone is what this loss may foreshadow for the future.”
Commissioner Baldridge says he isn’t ready to give up on DP&L or Adams County’s future.
“I’m not the type to give up,”  Baldridge says.“We’re going to keep up the fight.”
DP&L’s settlement plan, now under consideration by the Public Utilities Commission, provides only $2 million in shareholder money for workforce and economic development in Adams and Brown Counties as well as job training assistance for families impacted by the shuttering of the two plants. County officials are hopeful DP&L will be open to increasing that funding to include local infrastructure development to attract new business and industry.

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