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Monroe County managing Plant Scherer revenue loss

Monroe County Chairman Greg Tapley say the county is not looking to increase property taxes. They will use extra funds and cut departmental projects to balance loss.

MONROE COUNTY, Ga. — Monroe County officials are readjusting their budget due to a major revenue hit coming next year.

It's due to the closure of one of four units at Plant Scherer, the massive power plant in Juliette.

Plant Scherer first fired up in 1982, and it's the nation's largest coal-burning power plant.

Georgia Power's Plant Scherer is the biggest taxpayer in the county.

"They comprise of about 40 percent of our property tax base," says County Chairman Greg Tapley

He says the units closure has dropped the value of the coal-burning plant by 30 percent, meaning the county will lose $2.6 million for their 2023 budget.

"For a lot of folks, that would be a real crisis. For us, that was a matter of getting to work," he says.

Tapley said the county has been good stewards of their money. He says with the money they had set aside, plus other adjustments, they believe it will balance out.

He said the largest part of the counties budget is the payroll, which is seeing a cut. 

"We had some positions that were funded in the budget that we won't fund. We'll keep the position we just won't hire for it. It will be a hiring freeze," he says.

This include positions for the Sheriff's Office and Monroe County Fire & EMS. However, he assures everyone that there won't be a cut in first responders, there won't be an addition.

He says other departments will see a cut, too.

"There's some equipment at the landfill, the public works department... recreation. There are a number of arenas in the county that won't get some equipment they probably need really badly," he says.

 He says this all benefits property taxpayers.

"If we were to keep everything the same that we planned to do, everybody's property taxes would have to go up by probably by as much as 18 percent," he says

As for the county's future with Plant Scherer, Tapley says that depends on the owner, Southern Company.

They're the parent company of Georgia Power.

"As I understand it, Georgia Power may want to sell their ownership in Plant Scherer, but I think some of the other companies may see it as a valuable part of their portfolio," he adds

With the rest of the plant not expected to close for 5 to 15 years, he says they still have time to prepare for whatever happens. 

"Those are the threats we have to be ready for. I think, if nothing else, we'll have time to transition, and at least we have that," he says.

Tapley says right now, Monroe County is not looking at increasing property taxes, but they will reevaluate in 2023. 

He says the county may apply for state or national funds that aid communities with coal plants, but he says he thinks the county can figure it out themselves, saying, "Together as a whole, we have this handled and I think we're going to be OK."


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