Howard County commissioners are expected to consider several agenda items pertaining to recently approved reinvestment zones Monday morning, making necessary adjustments to help attract wind energy companies to the Big Spring area.
Terry Wegman, executive director for Moore Development, the local agency that acts as liaison between the wind energy companies and the county’s taxing entities for the purpose of tax abatements, is expected to discuss the following items with commissioners:
• Discussion and possible approval of an order canceling the recently approved order to terminate tax abatement offer made to Wind Plus due to failure to perform. The termination was recently approved by the court at the urging of Wegman.
• Discussion and possible approval of an order to cancel existing reinvestment zones A and C, also established Oct. 22.
• A public hearing concerning the establishment of revised reinvestment zones A and C for tax abatement purposes.
• Discussion and possible approval of an order establishing reinvestment zones A and C.
The county signed a tax abatement agreement with Wind Plus Inc. in 2005 for a project to be completed by January 2007. Wegman told commissioners during their Nov. 12 meeting the company had not lived up to its end of the bargain.
“The project progressed to that point (the contract), then nothing happened,” said Wegman. “The wheels kind of came off. Subsequent to that, we would ask that you approve the cancellation of the contract for failure to perform because the contract said it would be completed by Jan. 1, 2007, and of course, it’s not. We have to get that abatement contract terminated before we can proceed with the new ones.”
Several wind energy companies are interested in developing in the Howard County area, according to Wegman, and new reinvestment zones – which allow for tax abatements – have already been approved by the commissioners court.
The court voted unanimously to cancel the Wind Plus contract.
Commissioners are also expected to discuss progress made in building a new $11.57 million jail facility, approved by the voters Nov. 6.
The discussion, however, hinges on the participation of one key individual, according to County Judge Mark Barr.
“Jeff (Heffelfinger, project architect) has asked that we put him down on each meeting agenda from here on out in case he can be here,” said Barr. “If he’s here, we’ll talk about the jail. If he’s not, we’ll have to wait until he can be here.”
Heffelfinger, who was on the agenda for the Nov. 12 meeting, was unable to attend.
Barr said he hopes to see work begin in earnest sometime in March, but there’s plenty to keep the commissioner’s and county officials busy in the meantime.
“Once we get all of this preliminary stuff out of the way, I’m hoping to see construction start in early March,” said Barr. “You have to do the soil samples, which is a much bigger deal than I originally thought. Out here in West Texas, they say we have really bad soil, so they are going to have to do that. We’ll also have to get the site ready. The county can do a lot of the dirt work.”
Also on Monday’s agenda, County Auditor Jackie Olson will present the court invoices, purchase requests and a list of holidays for 2008.
County Treasurer Teresa Thomas is expected to discuss personnel considerations and a payroll report, while Chief Deputy Mark Hall will present information regarding firearm purchases.
The meeting will get under way at 10 a.m. Monday in the commissioner’s courtroom, located on the second floor of the Howard County Courthouse.
By Thomas Jenkins
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