With turbines at the Twin Groves Wind Farm now up and running, the owners are getting ready for a big bill – the first McLean County tax assessment for Horizon Wind Energy.
McLean County board member Tari Renner admits, “We did work very hard to get this project in eastern McLean County.” Twin Groves benefits from low taxes, thanks to being deemed an “enterprise zone.” However, a proposed state bill could bring those low local taxes to an end.
House Bill 380 would create a uniform standard for calculating property taxes based on the wind farm’s construction costs. We did the math, and the bottom line for Twin Groves: $3.37 million. Renner says, “Four million dollars to most people is a lot of money. Maybe not to Bill Gates, but it certainly is.”
Horizon has budgeted a set range they hope will meet the tax rates at the end of the year, but a Horizon spokesman says a tax more than $3 million would be at the highest end of that range. In fact, Horizon says it would be a worst case scenario for their business. Renner hopes the state will give them some leeway, saying “The trade-off might be that Springfield passes legislation to increase our power to give enterprise zones to companies.”
Renner says he understands why lawmakers want to equalize taxes, but he worries it will discourage future wind farm projects from coming to McLean County. Renner says, “I would hope that at the very least we would be given extra tools with enterprise zone legislation to be able to keep the attractive incentives there for the companies that we’d like to bring to our community.”
By Katie Burcham
24 April 2007
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