Following harsh statements made by officials in DeKalb County, a St. Louis-based wind company has responded to allegations of avoiding paying taxes.
Answering claims that DeKalb County’s Lost Creek wind farm was low-balling the county, Wind Capital Group has called the allegations false.
“Wind Capital Group believes very strongly in paying its fair share of property taxes and has agreed to pay more in property taxes on the Lost Creek Project than has ever been paid on a wind energy project in the state of Missouri,” the company said.
Currently awaiting judgment on a proper property tax payment amount by the Missouri Tax Commission, Lost Creek, owned by Wind Capital, is fighting tax assessment figures submitted by DeKalb County Assessor Ruth Ross.
According to court records, Ms. Ross’ assessment places a market value on each of the wind farm’s 99 towers of $930,100 and an assessed value, or 32 percent of the total, of $297,630.
In August, Lost Creek rejected the assessment, filing an appeal with the tax commission claiming a true market value of $445,727 and an assessed value of $142,633 per tower.
To reach her assessment, Ms. Ross said she used the same formula that other counties in Northwest Missouri did when they helped create wind farms.
In its press release, Wind Capital stated the company expressed in a meeting with DeKalb County commissioners in 2007 that the wind farm was deemed too expensive if it were to go by the other counties’ tax assessment model.
Beyond allegations, what exists on paper has become a point of contention – an intergovernmental agreement contract signed by DeKalb County commissioners, the county clerk and Wind Capital Group in 2009.
Stating that the wind farm was created solely because of the agreement, Wind Capital said they agreed to a set amount of property tax that they are ready to pay, not the bloated numbers set by the assessor.
“The assessor is effectively changing the rules after the game has started by waiting until the project was constructed and then seeking to increase the amount that had already been agreed upon by the County Commissioners and Wind Capital Group,” the press release stated.
Several problems exist with the 2009 agreement, largely that it was ruled inappropriate by the Missouri Tax Commission due to Ms. Ross never signing off on it. Claiming she was never involved in the talks, Ms. Ross’ name is absent from the contract that includes her colleagues’ signatures.
Citing Missouri Revised Statute Section 423.070, which states the county cannot enter into an agreement without the authorized officers signing off on the agreement, Ms. Ross said the lack of her signature nullified the agreement.
“I have never signed any of their agreements and ultimately, the assessor is the person that sets the assessed value,” she said.
With litigation still pending, both sides have made it clear they’re limited on what they can say, though Ms. Ross said she was particularly offended that Wind Capital would use the agreement against her.
“I have been very careful not to mention the intergovernmental agreement, simply because it was a moot subject. It was deemed inappropriate,” she said. “For them to say that they had entered this agreement with the commissioners and that I had waited until the last minute … I had basically told them from the get-go that I was following the model from the other counties.”
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