In the story in today's (June 22) Watchman on the failure of the Louisiana Tax Commission to assess public service properties properly, several items of importance were highlighted regarding the negative consequences of the commission's failure to properly assess Entergy's nuclear power plant.

The story quoted a spokesman for Entergy, Michael Burns, as saying "The tax policy reason behind the legislative enactment of this type of appraisal system is to strike an equitable balance between the revenue needs of local government and the tax expense ultimately borne by Louisiana utility customers." This portrayal of the policy is not accurate.

The purpose of all assessment is to correctly assess the value of a public service property and, in the commission's own rules, to allocate those values in accordance with the value of the assets in the parish in which they reside.

West Feliciana Parish both benefits and faces short- and long-term challenges from having a nuclear power plant in our parish. The plant's license runs out in less than 10 years. However, nuclear waste will reside in this parish forever since Entergy is unable to meet the commitment it made when it received the license to remove the waste and store it elsewhere.

In addition, we are responsible for conducting public safety drill that make, improve and test plans of what to do in the event of an emergency. This will continue long after the plant closes. It is illustrative to look at the position Entergy has taken in areas of the country where they have closed nuclear plants as the head of Homeland Security for our parish, it troubles me that we may no longer be able to continue to afford those practices even during the operation of the plant.

The most obvious facts regarding the failure of the commission to follow standards are two fold. First, when the commission's assessment practices were challenged several years ago, it changed its own rules to hide information about the practices it follows. The commission doesn't even provide information to the parish assessors who, by law, must make sure all assessments are correct.

Second, each year for many years in a row, the assessment of Entergy's plant in West Feliciana goes down by exactly the same amount, no matter how much new equipment is added (like the storage equipment that will hold the waste for the next few centuries.)

As someone who is professionally qualified to do company valuations, I can state without equivocation, that this simply isn't possible if an honest and correct valuation is made each year. Something stinks and it must be corrected so that the people of my parish and of the entire state can have confidence that the process is transparent, fair and honest. At the present time, we know that it is not correct, we know it is not transparent and I do not believe it represents an honestly achieved result.

We only ask that the commission provide us with a correct appraisal of the value of Entergy's holdings in West Feliciana.

Kevin Couhig

West Feliciana Parish President