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Letter: Murphy misconstrues the facts

To the Editor:

I realize the weeks before an election are a ridiculous time, when people feel free to say anything about anyone. Even by that standard, Sen. Steve Murphy's Oct. 8 letter was an embarrassing collection of misstatements and misrepresentations.

As mayor of Red Wing, I have always been supportive of the Prairie Island nuclear plant and its relicensing and expansion. I have let the great Xcel employees at the plant know that as mayor I am committed to having Red Wing be home to one of the nation's first-rate nuclear generating facilities.

Regarding the property tax "deal" Murphy claimed to be facilitating, several points need to be made:

First, the $9 million property tax figure Murphy attributes to me was actually given by Xcel Energy in a Minnesota Public Utility Commission filing. It was Xcel's own estimate of the property taxes that would be paid annually to Red Wing if the plant is relicensed and allowed to expand its output.

Secondly, Murphy claims he was close to a deal to have Xcel "pre-pay" $2 million in property taxes. There are two problems with his story. First, property tax pre-payment schemes are prohibited by law, and Sen. Murphy should have known that. Secondly, under the "deal" Xcel's property taxes on the nuclear plant would have been frozen for the next 10 years. The outcome would have resulted in a huge shift in tax burden to Red Wing homeowners in future years, which Murphy apparently found acceptable, but which I did not.

I always have been, and always will be, a strong supporter of the Prairie Island plant, which is an integral part of our community.

John Howe

Red Wing

John Howe is the Republican candidate for Senate District 28.