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Board of Assessments Hears Arguments From Waymart Wind Farm Owner  

WAYNE COUNTY - The Wayne County Commissioners' meeting on Tuesday quickly switched over to the Board of Assessments and Revision of Taxes to hear an assessment appeal from the Waymart Wind Farm, L.P. for their 2006 taxes.

Representing the Wind Farm was Thomas J. MacNeely, Esq. from Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, L.L.P. Community Outreach Manager, Mary Wells sat in the back and did not speak during the tax appeal hearing. The grounds for the tax appeal were stated in a memorandum presented at the hearing:

“Wind turbine generators are machinery or equipment contained within industrial establishments that are excluded from taxation as real property. The assessments are illegal for increasing market value as a result of the placement of machinery and equipment on these sites. The assessments violate uniformity of taxation, since the machinery and equipment are excluded from taxation under the Public Utility Realty Tax. The assessments constitute illegal spot reassessments. The assessments exceed market value for the property.”

Mr. Barnett stood in for Wayne County Chief Assessor Mr. Nolan as he was unable to attend the meeting. The appeal filed with the board encompassed 43 parcels of land, the pad and tower on each parcel.

Attorney MacNeely cited sections of law or court cases such as: 72 P.S. §5452.201(a); BFC Hardwoods v. Bd. of Assessment Appeals, 771 A.2d 759, 763 (Pa 2001); BFC Hardwoods, supra, at p. 764; Allegheny Energy Supply Co. V. Green County Bd. of Assessment Appeals, 837 A.2d 655 (PA Cmwlth. 2003); 72 P.S. §5453.201; Appeal of the Borough of Aliquippa (Jones & Laughlin Tax Assessment Case), 175 A. 2d. 856, 861 (PA 1961); Allegheny Energy, 837 A.2d at 669; Shenandoah Mobile Co. v. Dauphin County Bd. of Assessment, 869 A.2d 562 (PA. Cmwlth 2005); F & M Schaeffer Brewing Co. v. Lehigh Co. Bd. of Appeal, 610 A.2d 1, 6 (PA 1992) In re PP&L, Inc., 838 A. 2d (PA Cmwlth. 2003); F & M Schaeffer Brewing, supra at p.6; Public Utility Tax Act; 72 P.S. §8101-A(3); Article VIII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; Parsowith v. Commonwealth, Dept. of Revenue, 723 A. 2d 659 (PA 1999); Vees v, Carbon County Bd. of Assessment, 867 A. 2d 742, 747 (PA Comwlth. 2005); Radecke v. York Co. Bd of Assessment Appeals, 798 A. 2d 265 (PA Comwlth 2005); Radecke, supra, at 268 and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co. v. Dauphin County Bd. of Assessment Appeals, 874 A. 2d 702.

On page nine of the “Memorandum in Support of Waymart Wind Farm L.P. Tax Appeal,” under Valuation, it is alleged that: “The 2006 assessments of the forty-three (43) wind turbine sites illegally include the value of machinery and equipment as real property; the assessments illegally enhance the value of the rural property for the placement of machinery and equipment on the site; the assessments do not reflect market value; the assessments exceed market value; and the assessed land values are not uniform with other land values in the area.”

The memorandum ends with what attorney Thomas J. MacNeely feels should be a fair assessment after explanations are given in previous pages: “The total tax assessment to Waymart for each turbine site should be set in a range of $31,000 to $45,000.”

The current 2006 assessment stands at $282,410 per turbine site. The complete memorandum is 15 pages. The decision from the Board of Assessment Appeals of Wayne County was to keep the assessment of 2006 and indefinitely for the Waymart Wind Farm, L.P. located in Clinton and Canaan Townships as they were before the appeal.

During an interview after the hearing, Ms. Wells explained: “…we reached a settlement on our 2004-05 taxes…with the county and with the two school districts and we made a payment to the county for that settlement…that settlement was approved by the court but the court did not weigh in on who is right and who is wrong. They never really heard that case, all they did is agree that the settlement was reasonable and they approved it.

“So there is no ruling from the courts on whether we’re right or the county is right….What we hope is to come up with a permanent solution to this problem rather than have this occur every year…”

COMMISSIONERS MEETING

Aside from business as usual, the Wayne County Commissioners proclaimed November 17, 2005 as the Great American Smoke Out. Michelle Erbach, Tobacco Program Manager for the Wayne County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Tammy Connor with the American Cancer Society, and Ms. Demaye-Caruth, owner of the Manerva Educational & Treatment Center, who is also a member of the Wayne County Tobacco and Cancer Coalition were present for the proclamation. She stated in an interview how statistics show if a smoker is able to stop smoking for one day, that same smoker is capable of quitting altogether.

Wayne County is known to have a high rate in both colon / rectal and lung cancer. The Wayne Memorial Hospital has spent a great deal of money and time investigating why these rates are particularly high in Wayne County.

For more information on tobacco and cancer call (570) 253-6022.

http://http://www.wayneindependent.com/articles/2005/11/16/news1/news2.txt

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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