A little over three months ago, ALCOA and Cleantech removed their offer to the Stanly County Commissioners to make a substantial investment in our county and to bring in much needed jobs. . Public comment has died down considerably, but that doesn't mean the lawsuit or the taxpayer expense has died too.
ALCOA still operates the dams and they still reap the profits daily from their investment while the taxpayers, through the Stanly County Commissioners, continue with the legal expense of their lawsuit against ALCOA. Whether the lawsuit is right or wrong, the County Commissioners have authorized through December 2011 over $5 million dollars to be paid by the taxpayers.
During much of this same time frame, the county has cut funding to education and to our community schools. . Because of the commissioners lack of funds for schools and education claim, we've seen the closing of New London and North Albemarle Schools and now the Stanly County Board of Education is considering the closing of Ridgecrest Elementary School.
It's too bad education and schools may have had to pay the price for this lawsuit, so far, and future legal expenses.
The total property tax paid by ALCOA and APGI to Stanly County this year is $468,050. If nothing changes, it will take the county and the taxpayers over ten years to re coop the funds spent by the county commissioners just through December 2011 for this lawsuit.
At the end of the day, it looks like, the taxpayers through authorization by the Stanly County Commissioners are incurring a tremendous legal expense in their effort to "recapture" the dams while ALCOA continues to profit from their investment and operation of the dams every day. . By review of the county budget, it appears that the county commissioners have allowed this lawsuit and it's expense to get out of hand and practically strangle our county.
The following shows how much the county budgeted for professional services through the county Attorney's Office at the begriming of the budget year and then how much they actually spent that same year:
Adopted budget FY 06-07 $ 20,000 actual expense $ 215,153
Adopted budget FY 07-08 $150,000 actual expense $ 667,533
Adopted budget FY 08-09 $250,000 actual expense $ 949,478
Adopted budget FY 09-10 $250,000 actual expense $1,714,967
Adopted budget FY 10-11 $250,000 actual expense $1,085,775
Adopted budget FY 11-12 $100,000 actual expense through Dec 2011 $76,006
Had the commissioners budgeted close to the amount actually spent, it would have indicated they at least knew what they were about to take the county and it's taxpayers through regarding this lawsuit.
In their FERC relicensing document, ALCOA disclosed that the approximate "recapture" price for the project was $24.1 million dollars. It sure would be nice to see a business plan to know where this "recapture" money is going to come from IF the county should win its lawsuit.
Surely, not much more can come from the schools and education!!!!
David Morgan, Former Chairman, Stanly County Board of County Commissioners