I-Team: Town could lose millions in taxes if plant closes
If the Brayton Point Power Station shuts down, the lucrative tax revenue it provides to Somerset dries up.
The NBC 10 I-Team dug into records at Town Hall. The numbers are staggering. In fiscal year 2013, the power plant paid $11.9 million in taxes. That's roughly 28 percent of all tax money the town collects.
Last year, the total topped out at $15.9 million. And in 2011, more than $13 million was paid to the town in taxes.
Town Administrator Dennis Luttrell knows the job ahead of him will not be an easy one.
"It will be a tough row to hoe and a lot of difficult decisions will have to be made," said Luttrell.
Luttrell said Somerset may be eligible for $3 million in state assistance, that it has about $7 million in a rainy day-type fund and that it has possibly five years to prepare for the plant's shutdown.
Luttrell told the I-Team that any drastic moves would be a balance between what taxpayers want and what they can afford.
"We can't cut our way out of this entirely, we just can't do that. The order of magnitude is too large to do that but I do see a reduction of expenses, commensurate with reduction of services as well as tax increases," Luttrell said.
Homeowners and businesses already pummeled by tax hikes this year, 19 percent and 24 percent respectively, are beginning to question their threshold for pain.
"We don't have much business in this town and we rely on the businesses for everything," said resident George Giguere.
"The old-timers that still have their homes are going to be up a creek," added longtime resident Lucinda Camara.
"People that have been here, that made this town what it is, will no longer be able to stay here," Francis DeMoura said.
The power plant is also a substantial user of town water, consuming 1 million gallons a year, and paying Somerset about $2 million.