By Eduardo Manchon, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54522900
Several Northern Arizona schools, libraries and health care facilities are nearing financial disaster in the wake of the Navajo Generating Station closure, the Navajo Times recently reported.
SRP.net confirms that 433 employees lost their positions due to the Nov. 18, 2019, closure, leaving the city of Page, the Navajo Nation, and the Hopi Tribe in financial peril. In 2017, the owners of NGS confirmed that it would be uneconomical to continue operations in the plant after its lease with the Navajo Nation expired. SRP, Arizona Public Service Co., NV Energy and Tucson Electric Power are part owners of the now-shuttered power plant.
Rob Varner, superintendent for Page Unified School District, has seen a decrease in both funding and student headcount since the closure and is very concerned with the effect this will have on students, teachers and family.
"PUSD has lost $772,334 in revenue since the plant closed. This is due to student loss and cash inflow," Varner told the Navajo Times.
“When you go out for funding such as (federal) Impact Aid, federal funding, and state funding, you’ve got to put in your average daily membership,” Varner explained to the Navajo Times. “As that starts dwindling off, that’s less money into our schools. We’ve lost teachers (and) our class sizes probably will take up some.”
Varner confirmed that an estimated 300 students will leave PUSD. This will lead to a loss of staff along with a possible reduction of after-school programs and extracurricular activities.
Page Hospital CEO Susan Eubanks has also confirmed a loss in the hospital's revenue since the closure and is very concerned with the effect it will have on compensation, repairs and equipment purchases in the future.
“Therefore, it decreases the amount that we get … compensated with,” Eubanks explained to the Navajo Times. “Also, taxation that we’re able to get (over $500,000) from NGS, which makes up about one-third of the total amount of tax that we (used) to collect ($1.5 million per year).”
Colleen Smith, president of Coconino Community College, is also hindered by the unfortunate discontinuation of the plant's operations but is trying her best to stop residents from departing.
“And everything we’re doing, we’re trying to bring our people home and keep them here, keep families together and strengthen our communities,” Fowler told the Navajo Times. “When we talk about our communities. We don’t think about just Page or just LeChee, it’s all of us together.”