Friday, June 25, 2010

Duke Energy withholding taxes, schools suffer

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 10:53 AM

In only slightly good news, Duke Energy is challenging its $40 million property tax bill in Ohio, not North Carolina.

In bad news, it's the kids who will suffer.

And, this is where I'll remind you how damn frustrating it is that the Charlotte-based energy company loves to talk about what a great corporate citizen they are, how they love their neighbors (you and me) and how they always do the right thing (i.e. follow the letter of the law).

Even in this news story, the company seems to be saying: Yeah, our employees will suffer too. That's too bad. It's business, not personal. It's all about the Benjamins, you know?

This is where I'll also remind you that all that talk sounds might nice, but would a loving corporate neighbor do this? Can you imagine how CMS would suffer if the company decided to pull the same stunt here?

CINCINNATI — Three state education groups are criticizing Duke Energy’s decision to withhold millions of dollars in property taxes, saying the move “will have a devastating financial impact on many Southwestern Ohio school districts.”

Area school districts stand to lose out as Duke challenges its personal property taxes to the tune of $40 million. The immediate effect is a $20 million shortfall in personal property taxes paid out weeks before the end of the fiscal year.

The Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials released a statement Tuesday, June 22, saying they take issue with Duke requesting its tax obligation be reduced by 40 percent despite a 4 percent increase in property values from 2008-09. Educators are concerned other Ohio utility companies might follow suit.

Duke has notified its 700 entities most affected in Butler, Warren, Preble, Montgomery, Clinton, Highland, Hamilton, Clermont, Brown and Adams counties.

“It’s a difficult message to deliver,” Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen said. “We have employees that work and live in these communities and felt like we had to be straight-forward and communicating.”

Duke filed an appeal from December 2009 with the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, asking to cut $40 million from its property taxes annually. Thelen said it has been seven months with no resolution. While the dispute is worked out — a resolution could take years, Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds said — Duke by law can pay what it deems as fair value.

Read the rest of this Dayton Daily News article, by Lindsey Hilty, here.

Further reading: Duke Energy profit jumps 29 percentTriangle Business Journal, May 4, 2010

Apparently Duke Energy has ticked people off in Indiana, too:

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