MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — The owners of the NEXUS gas pipeline have filed two appeals with the state's department of taxation to lower its valuation -- a proposition that could shave millions from school budgets across the state.
For years, the construction of the nexus gas pipeline has sparked controversy in communities across northeast Ohio. The pipeline runs east to west across much of the state before heading into Michigan -- eventually making its way to Ontario, Canada. While many didn't want to have a pipeline in their backyard, the windfall from newly generated tax revenue was one thing that benefited communities.
"When NEXUS first came in they came across with some estimates, even at that time, I asked them for the background information on it to prove the numbers," said Mike Kovack, Medina County Auditor. "But they were never able to get that to me."
Now, almost half the money expected from the pipeline appears to be a pipe dream.
"Nexus has already appealed their value twice with the state: once took it down in the 70 percent range. The second took it down 47% of their initial calculation," said Kovack.
The less the pipeline is worth, the less money school districts receive. In Medina County, Cloverleaf Local Schools will be the biggest loser. They’ll have to make up a $3.5 million difference assuming NEXUS is successful in lowering its valuation. Buckeye Schools comes in second and would lose $2 million. Medina City Cchools and Wadsworth Schools also stand to lose money.
Kovack remembered the complaints from years past, saying,"it’s bringing true what some critics of NEXUS said in the first place."
Early critics of the pipeline didn’t want it travelling through the backyards in the first place, while others were doubtful of the money the pipeline would generate. For school district leaders and the county’s money managers, NEXUS' new valuation doesn’t sit well.
"It is new revenue,' Kovack says of the tax money that remains. "But again, when you start off with a number and you’re now looking at 50% of what they were promising, it’s a very big hurdle for a lot of the districts to overcome."
The Ohio School Pipeline Coalition has been established to help fight off NEXUS’ plans, while district leaders devise plans to do more with less. Fortunately, most are prepared to do so, as Kovack forewarned them to be wary of estimates.
We don’t know exactly when the appeals process will be complete. However, if Nexus is successful, we do know a lot of school districts will have a lot less money to work with.