The Oak Ridge City Council will discuss U.S. Department of Energy funding and support during a special meeting tonight. It’s described at least in part as an “information-gathering session.”
The special meeting was called by City Council members Trina Baughn and Charlie Hensley. Hensley, in particular, has raised questions about whether DOE is paying its fair share to the city.
Here’s the language outlining tonight’s discussion:
“to discuss and possibly take action on a plan to engage DOE officials with regards to their obligations to the City of Oak Ridge and its citizenry. Let it [the special meeting request] include formally requesting, in writing, a DOE Community Assistance Review as allowed within AECA 1955, PL 84-221, DOE Order 2100.12A, and other supporting legislation, including those self-sufficiency plans dating from 1980 through a Council Resolution and other joint local government collaborative action to include a specific date for a response.”
The meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. today (Monday, October 20), will also include a presentation by former City Council member Leonard Abbatiello.
In a memo to City Council, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark S. Watson said Council members have asked that current members be advised of financial efforts by DOE, obtaining “various perspectives on how the city may fund city services in the future with a correct share of financial support from the U.S. government.”
The City of Oak Ridge was established as a city in 1959, and it has three federal sites—Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the former K-25 gaseous diffusion site, and Y-12 National Security Complex—as well as many DOE support facilities.
“As a result of serving these facilities, the City of Oak Ridge has many unique public service requirements, untypical of many cities of our size, such as radioactive emergency response, fire protection for large facilities, external police observation, and cultural/historical projects,” Watson said.
For many years, he said, DOE has provided funding through a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT, to replace standard property taxes for the tax-exempt property owned by DOE. But over the years, Council members have suggested the rate is too low.
“Additional efforts have been made by the city to obtain additional revenues through such matters as direct appropriation, land transfers, tipping fees, and contracts for services,” Watson said.
The special meeting starts at 7 p.m. today in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.