Mon County commissioners talk Longview PILOT agreement on WAJR

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Monongalia County commissioners are talking about how negotiations for the new PILOT agreement with Longview Power have progressed.

Groups like the Sierra Club and the Mon County Coalition for Clean Air have opposed the Longview Power L.L.C. expansion and have accused the commission of negotiating in private. Those in opposition have also claimed the commission is giving tax breaks away and the agreement is not in the best interests of taxpayers.

Commissioners Ed Hawkins, Tom Bloom and Sean Sikora appeared on WAJR’s Talk of the Town to explain their side of the negotiations.

“We started last spring, we had a lot of discussions, we had a lot of back and forth to get the point that we could approve a term sheet in September,”Sean Sikora said,”That’s where we’ve been, the term sheet that defines everything we still have to work out, we haven’t as a group met with Longview since September.”

Sikora says much work has been dedicated to developing an escrow agreement, PILOT agreement, lease and the facilities development agreement that will govern the relationship between the county Longview Power for many years.

“There are two parts of this process,”Sikora said,”There’s the process going on with us negotiating the actual PILOT agreement and the PSC process that is currently going on and is completely transparent, we’ve even offered our commission chamber for a public meeting.”

Sikora says most of the negotiations involving hundreds of pages of terms of conditions have been conducted by lawyers representing each entity. The latest draft is in the hands of Longview Power L.L.C. attorney for review and comment.

Sikora adds the draft agreement would pay the county much more than if there was no development and only property taxes were collected.

“The three properties that Longview owns and will build on, bring in about $3,800 a year in taxes,”Sikora said,”The Payment In Lieu of Taxes agreement, when the facility is built will be $58 million over 30 years.”

The negotiations and PSC process is ongoing.