Brown County Commissioners Monday designated the entire county outside incorporated cities as a reinvestment zone, a step that will allow companies to apply for tax abatements.
The designation was requested by Renewable Energy Systems representative Wes Jackson, who told commissioners the company has been acquiring leases for wind turbine generators in Comanche, Mills and Brown counties. The majority of the 150 turbines will be in Comanche County, but between 10 and 25 will be in Brown County, he said.
“The actual number of turbines in Brown County will probably be somewhere in between (those numbers),” Jackson told the commissioners Monday. “The project is looking very good.”
His presentation Monday came during a public hearing designed to give citizens an opportunity to comment on the reinvestment zone designation, County Judge Ray West said. Consideration of tax abatements for the project will come later, but perhaps as soon as Dec. 17.
“This is not a decision by the court that abates taxes,” West said of Monday’s action. “This is hearing on creating the zone, not granting the abatement itself.”
Jackson said the designation of the entire county outside incorporated areas would also benefit other firms.
“If anyone else comes in with a project, you don’t have to go through the process again,” Jackson said. “If the county does this, it certainly streamlines the process.”
“We have to have a consistent set of rules and conditions,” West said. “There is discretion as far as making abatements, but we have to have rules.”
West said areas in the county in the industrial district have previously been named as reinvestment zones.
Jackson said its tax abatement application will include a request for a waiver on job totals, because wind turbines are automated and not labor intensive such as an industry. He said the application would include a provision for jobs tied to the “industry standard,” which is about one job for every 15 turbines.
“It’s going to create a lot of jobs during the construction,” Jackson said.
The company would also pledge to use local contractors whenever the quality and price is equal, and local firms would receive preference, if all things are equal, even if the bids are 5 percent higher.
By Gene Deason
11 December 2007
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