JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Rep. Ed Schieffer spoke yesterday about Ameren withholding monies from schools in 16 different counties. Schieffer spoke in front of a crowd of mostly reporters and had large visual elements on display to support his claims, including enlarged copy of a check from Ameren to Boone County, Mo.
Schieffer read from a prepared statement that was also distributed to those on hand.
“There are 32 appeals now pending before the Missouri State Tax Commission involving Ameren Missouri’s attempt to reduce their local property tax payments on their natural gas distribution system by up to 60% in 16 different counties. A very large portion of every tax payer’s local property tax is paid directly to local schools. Thereby, this appeal has the potential of stripping away, an estimated $1.64 million annually out of the hands of our local school districts and placing it directly into the pocket of Ameren.” Schieffer said.
“While every taxpayer has the right to contest their tax assessment, Ameren’s actions and their prosecution of this appeal is wholly inequitable, given the fact that every penny of Ameren’s full tax bill has already been paid to them by consumers through Ameren’s gas rate structure set by the Public Service Commission.” Schieffer continued.
Schieffer also had some words that were not in the handout, “All we’re asking is to get the same treatment Boone County received” Schieffer said alluding to the displayed check which totaled the amount of $2,084,462.85.
Schieffer recalled how 2010 was the last year Ameren asked the PSC to allow them to charge consumers more for each unit of natural gas purchased. At that time Ameren requested the PSC use their local property tax bill for 2010 as their “test year” for the line item cost for local property taxes paid, in calculation of Ameren’s over-head expenses. “The PSC accepted 2010 as the “test year” and used this expense in their calculation of Ameren’s rate to be charged to consumers.” Schieffer said.
“Should Ameren win their appeals now pending before the State Tax Commission, they will be able to retain every dollar that has been paid to them consumers and that is taken away from our schools.” Schieffer continued “Should Ameren wait a mere five years to seek higher rates, Ameren will pocket consumer’s property tax payments that are equivalent to the annual salary of 253 school teachers”.
Schieffer claimed that it was Ameren’s vast monetary resources that keep smaller counties from contesting Ameren, but when Ameren was contested by one of the counties, the county won out.
“It is my feeling and my hope that Ameren will do the right thing. In all fairness to Ameren, they have done a good job of providing energy to consumers.” Schieffer said.