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Area municipalities look forward to new Fort Drum power plant

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FORT DRUM — Officials with the town of LeRay and the Carthage Central School District are expressing optimism about property tax revenues in light of news that the post’s energy plant is being revitalized.

Last week, ReEnergy Holdings LLC, Albany, announced that it has purchased the plant, last operated in 2010, and plans to convert it to run on biomass materials. The plant is expected to join the grid in early 2013.

Plant officials have already agreed to sell renewable energy credits to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, and officials expect the plant eventually to sell energy to the post.

In addition to providing new jobs, the plant should boost property tax revenues, which have dropped since the plant shut down. The plant previously paid property taxes to the town of LeRay, the Carthage Central School District and Jefferson County, and a company spokeswoman said the company would continue to pay taxes to those municipalities.

LeRay Town Supervisor Ronald C. Taylor said he was “glad to hear them talking about bringing it back.”

He said company officials met with him a few months ago, but have not been in communication since that initial meeting.

“They haven’t come to us with any specifics,” Mr. Taylor said.

The previous owners of the plant, United States Power Fund LP, worked with municipalities during the plant’s closure to reduce its assessment gradually instead of a making an immediate drop.

In LeRay, the assessment decreased from $42,093,900 in 2009 to $15 million in 2010 to $10 million in 2011, causing property tax revenue to decline from about $68,000 to about $15,500.

Amy M. Marrocco, the school district’s business manager, said she and other district officials were looking forward to seeing the plant return. When it was assessed at around $42 million, the plant generated about $480,000 in revenue for the school district.

School district revenues dropped from about $288,500 to about $116,500 as a result of the lowered assessment.

“We had to distribute that among our taxpayers,” Mrs. Marrocco said.

She said company officials had not contacted the school district, but said she assumed they would do so as the project moved along.

Work to refurbish the plant site is scheduled to begin within the next six weeks.

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