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Court date set for wind farm’s tax battle  

Credit:  By Andrew Gaug | St. Joseph News-Press | October 10, 2012 | www.newspressnow.com ~~

A yearlong property tax dispute between DeKalb County and a St. Louis-based wind company is expected to see its day in court.

Represented by their respective attorneys, DeKalb County officials and the Wind Capital Group are expected to meet in court Nov. 1 to discuss a contentious sales tax amount. County Assessor Ruth Ross said the two sides are expected to allow the court to decide what to do with more than $1 million in escrow.

The funds were held after Wind Capital Group claimed Ms. Ross’ assessment of its Lost Creek Wind Farm, located in King City, was overvalued.

Ms. Ross valued the wind farm’s 99 towers at $930,100, with an assessed value, or 32 percent of the total, of $297,630. Wind Capital appealed the assessment to the Missouri Tax Commission last September, stating it was closer to $445,727, with an assessed value of $142,633.

Since then, there have been checks held in financial purgatory, county services without expected funds, and months of appraisals and depositions.

“There has been back-and-forth – ‘They don’t like this’ and ‘We don’t like that,’” Ms. Ross said. “I’ve never been involved in all this stuff, and it’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Beyond court formalities, the last contact between the county and Wind Capital that didn’t directly involve lawyers occurred in late December, when representatives from the latter dropped off two checks totaling $1,967,572.

Of that amount, more than $1 million remains in an escrow account, while $951,021.62 – the amount Wind Capital Group stated it feels is the correct total it should pay – was dispatched by the county treasurer to DeKalb taxing entities, such as schools and fire protection.

“Wind Capital Group believes very strongly in paying our fair share of property taxes in DeKalb County and has now done so,” Stephen Bode, operations manager, said. “For the Lost Creek Project, we have now paid more in property taxes than has ever been paid on a wind energy project in the state of Missouri.”

Sticking to her figurative guns, Ms. Ross continued to say that’s not true.

“I have to pay my fair portion. Everybody else has to pay their fair portion. Wind Capital should have to pay their fair portion,” she said.

The court case’s delay was enough for Ms. Ross to throw her hat in the ring for a second term as county assessor.

“I really want to see this through. I started this, I’m really passionate that DeKalb County gets as much money as they possibly can in this situation,” she said.

Until the county and Wind Capital meet in court, it will be business as usual.

“We’re kind of in that holding pattern now, and the lawyers are doing most of the negotiating,” Ms. Ross said. “We should know by the end of the year, hopefully.”

Source:  By Andrew Gaug | St. Joseph News-Press | October 10, 2012 | www.newspressnow.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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