NEW RICHMOND, OH (FOX19) - The village of New Richmond says they got word from Duke Energy in 2011 that the Beckjord Power Plant operating there for more than 60 years was set to close in January of 2015. While village leaders say they worked hard to prepare for the closure, the amount of tax dollars that will suddenly leave their community will have serious consequences.
"I don't know if the townspeople are ready to accept their fate when this plant closes down," says New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey.
Harvey is one of only three full time officers and six part-timers help out when they can. But as of January 2015, he may be the only one left when the closure of the Beckjord Power Plant takes 40 percent of his annual budget.
"My total budget is $326,000 and if you knock a minimum of $120,000 off of that, it's going to be devastating," said Harvey.
"I think it's too easy to focus on the money," says Village Administrator David Kennedy.
Kennedy says it is true. When Beckjord closes, it will take with it more than $300,000 in property tax revenue for New Richmond cutting their police and fire budgets nearly in half. But it's the loss of a neighbor that will hurt the most.
"They've been a big part of New Richmond and you can't put a price on that. That's the key. The dollars are the dollars. They are what they are. That's what we have to deal with and we will continue to survive," said Kennedy.
"There is no doubt the crime will increase again if there is not a police presence," said Harvey.
Chief Harvey says they have worked hard to cut crime by 20 percent over the last year. He is hoping city council will find a way to save his department. Without it he says his village may not stay quiet for long.
"It's just a matter of getting the voter to realize just what need we are in. Eventually it's going to be up to the voter to determine what kind of services they want," said Harvey.
The Mayor of New Richmond says they are looking at options to close the gap created by the plant closure but still aren't sure how they will absorb the loss of tax dollars.
Duke energy says they have been working with the city, giving them a three year notice of this closure.
Also, the New Richmond School District is expected to lose around 2 million in tax revenue due to the plant closure.