SUMNER – Two dozen residents Tuesday night heard a state official explain the implications for taxpayers of the wind-power project proposed by Clear Sky Energy LLC.
Mike Rogers of Maine Revenue Services gave an overview of what a sudden increase in town valuations would mean to the town and taxpayers.
“The point of my presentation is to be sure people are getting good data and information to make informed judgments,” Rogers said. Developers only tell one side of the story, he said. “I am here to be like Paul Harvey and tell ‘the rest of the story.’”
The 35-year veteran of MRS stressed that he was neither for nor against wind power in any particular town. He reminded residents that through the town meeting, they are the legislative body of the town and he is not a resident. He said around 20 towns have asked him to explain the tax implications of a major development to their towns.
Rogers used numbers provided by the town. He stressed his calculations were only an example for a case where 2010 values held for the life of the project with no adjustments for inflation, changes in school or town budgets, or property values except for the wind project.
Assuming $18 million for the proposed wind turbine project were added to the tax rolls in 2011, he gave the following figures for taxes on a $100,000 home:
Year tax saving
2010 $1,475 $0
2011 $1,170 $305
2012 $1,170 $305
2013 $1,209 $266
Subsequent years $1,349 $126
He said the variation is because the state takes two years and the schools three years to incorporate changes in town valuations into their formulas.
Rogers said the town could use tax increment financing for some or all of the project valuation. The portion of the valuation covered by the TIF is shielded from consideration by the state or schools. The portion of the tax covered by the TIF must be used for community improvement or financial development, or it can be given back to the developer as an incentive to proceed with the project.
“Crumbs from the developer’s table” is how John Allen, a member of the town Industrial Wind Power Ordinance Committee, summed up projected savings of $2 million over 20 years for taxpayers.
Larry O’Rourke, head of the finance subcommittee of the Sumner Industrial Wind Power Ordinance Committee, broke the information down further to show daily savings to individual taxpayers.
There are 919 taxpayers in Sumner. From the fourth year on they would save an average of 26 cents per day, he said.
Forty-seven percent of the taxpayers own property assessed at less than $50,000. These owners would save, on average, 5 cents per day from the fourth year on. Seventy-one percent of the taxpayers own property assessed at less than $100,000. These owners would save, on average, 13 cents per day, according to O’Rourke.
Central Maine Power Co., which is assessed for its poles and lines in Sumner, has property valued at more than twice the assessment of the next highest property value. He said that CMP is also the largest beneficiary of any tax reductions, saving $3.47 per day from the fourth year on under the Clear Sky plan.
Resident Jeff Pfeiffer pointed out that the projections make no allowance for people who might have moved to Sumner and built homes if there were no wind turbines built.
Clear Sky Energy of Barnstable, Mass., proposed to build wind turbines on the Spruce Mountain hills, which include Mount Tom in the southwestern area of town.
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