BAD AXE – Huron County commissioners heard an update on where the county stood in its battle related to wind turbine tax values.
The Michigan State Tax Commission voted last fall to lower the taxable value of the machines.
Carl Osentoski, executive director of the Huron County Economic Development Corp., said their plan was three fold – a proposed meeting with the state tax commission, possible legislative change and the interlocal agreement’s tax appeal.
Osentoski said the county would request a study be done at a meeting with the state tax commission.
“My understanding is that if they’re going to change a depreciation schedule, there’s at least some type of study going on,” Osentoski said. “… That wasn’t done to the best of our understanding. We FOIA’d the state tax commission, and their response was it was just ‘common sense.’ There were no studies done to make that drastic adjustment.”
FOIA refers to a request for public information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Commissioner John Bodis requested a copy of the reply from Osentoski.
“The reason I’m saying that, is try taking the stand, and having the answer be ‘common sense,’” Bodis said.
“It’s common sense that you build a $4 million dollar (wind) turbine, and when you start it up it’s worth $3.2 million,” Commissioner Ron Wruble said sarcastically.
If the county were to go through a legislative route, Osentoski said it would attempt to reverse the classification of wind turbines as industrial personal property.
The interlocal agreement, which the county signed last week, is focused on a tax appeal case in Gratiot County (Detroit Edison Co. v Wheeler Township), which may set a precedent for the rest of the state.
Osentoski said that Sanilac, Tuscola, Mason, and Gratiot counties were expected to sign onto the agreement to share legal costs soon, and that other counties might sign on as well.
He said that he hoped the issue would be taken care of quickly.
“We’re hopeful that we can get this thing resolved,” Osentoski said. “We don’t want to see this thing drag out. Trust me. There are more fun things to be working on in economic development than tax policy issues.”
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