HURON COUNTY – Commissioners discussed the possibility of pursuing some sort of per-kilowatt charge on wind turbines erected in the county.
“We want to poise ourselves in a position where we can capture some of these royalties/revenue for the citizens of Huron County,” said Commissioner Ron Wruble.
He said as of now only landowners and some property tax evaluations benefit from wind turbines in the county.
“We’re the ones going to be sitting here looking at these things and not getting a benefit from them from an entire taxpayer’s standpoint,” he said.
Wruble compared the idea to that of Alaska which, he said, uses oil royalties to pay residents to live in the state and charges no state income tax.
The possibility is here in Huron County to offset the county millage if it’s possible to capture some revenue from the energy produced by wind turbines, he said.
Currently, the county is researching whether such a charge is feasible and what legal hurdles it would have to go through to accomplish such a thing, Wruble said.
And even though it’s going to be a huge feat to accomplish, he said it’s more than worth it – especially considering the tax abatements and other considerations these projects have been given.
“If they want to be productive, (developers) will have to build (wind farms) here because that’s where the wind is,” Wruble said. “ … They’re going to come in here, put up turbines, property owners will make royalties … and the investor will make most of the money.”
If the county could somehow capture enough revenue to offset the amount of monies it collects from the county millage, the benefits would be two-fold, he said.
“The side-effects would be an economic enticement for people to move here, and for industry to come here, too,” Wruble said.
Commissioner Clark Elftman said there’s not very many other areas for the county to capture additional revenue.
“This is a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s something we should definitely pursue.”
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Wruble said the county is in the process of closing out the books for 2007 – adding the county is expecting a surplus of around $450,000.
He said the General Fund at the end of 2007 should be up to about $1.3 million, and the Retiree Health Fund should have around $900,000.
Commissioners, also during Tuesday’s meeting, discussed the possibility of getting global positioning system (GPS) units for area ambulances.
“I don’t think it would cost the county anything – they could have a fundraiser or get someone to donate,” Elftman said.
He said he’s talked with emergency management/9-1-1 officials and they agree GPS units are necessary – especially on the maze of roads near the shoreline.
“There are four Pine Streets in just Scheurer Hospital’s area alone,” Elftman said.
Huron County Commissioner Chairman Robert Haldane agreed.
“That would be worthwhile,” he said in regards to obtaining the GPS units. “That would definitely be worthwhile.”
No action was taken during Tuesday’s meeting because only discussion is allowed during a meeting of the whole.
In other business discussed Tuesday, Commissioner Dave Peruski said it appears the county is not saving any money by sharing an equalization director with Tuscola County.
“We actually might save a couple bucks – if not break even – if we were to have our own director,” he said. “We have a situation where we may not be able to serve our Huron County assessors and public as effectively than having our own director.”
County officials hoped an intergovernmental agreement between Huron and Tuscola counties would help some of the problems the equalization office has been experiencing since former Equalization Director Coiene Tait was removed from office last summer for what commissioners construed as misconduct.
Peruski said looking at things now, it may be beneficial for the county to not continue sharing Tuscola County’s equalization director, but instead train its own.
During his Properties Committee report Tuesday, Commissioner Jim Leonard said the Huron County Health Department has been connected to the city of Bad Axe’s water system, and the Huron County Medical Care Facility soon will be – if it hasn’t already – connected as well.
He said about $5,000 in repairs and inspections have been made for the county’s airplane, which commissioners hope to sell for between $45,000 and $55,000. “There have been some people looking at it,” Leonard said in regards to potential buyers. “But nothing’s been done.”
Commissioners have discussed the possibility of purchasing a boat for the sheriff’s department with the proceeds of the plane’s sale.
The board’s next meeting is set to take place next week at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Kate Hessling, The Huron Daily Tribune
16 April 2008
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