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Gratiot townships invited to join in tax fight

Several townships have been invited to join county commissioners for a Monday evening meeting on the county’s tax tribunal fight.

It’s set for 5:30 p.m. at the Gratiot Isabella Regional Education Service District building in Ithaca, said Gratiot County Commission Chairman Jeff Anderson..

The county has been battling the state tax commission’s sudden reduction in taxes regarding the wind turbines and has joined four other counties in the fight .

For the county alone, these reductions amount to $4.6 million in lost revenue over a 20 year period, Anderson said.

All millages throughout the county, including school millages have been diminished because of the state’s new ruling.

Townships have lost revenue along with millages for the Commission on Aging, the sheriff’s road patrol and the parks.

In the fight, the county, along with the four other counties that make up the Michigan Renewable Energy Collaboration, is going to have to have an appraisal done, said Nicole Frost, county administrator. That’s expected to cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

The other four counties have agreed to stick with the collaboration and if Gratiot, which has a little more to lose than the others, chooses to share in the cost of the appraisal, the county’s share is expected to be around $20,000.

The county has already agreed to pay its share of legal fees, which so far have amounted to $2,600 out of a total cost of $9,900.

Bethany and Wheeler townships, which originally filed the claim against the state, have been in on the battle from the beginning and have contributed to cost of the fight, Frost said. But the other townships have not. Monday’s meeting will attempt to get representatives from the townships up to speed, she said.

Wheeler, Bethany, Lafayette, Emerson, North Star and Hamilton townships, which all have wind turbines, have been invited to the meeting, along with the county commissioners and Dr. Jan Amsterburg of the RESD, Frost said.

“We want to make sure they understand the changes that have taken place,” she said. “We want to get everyone involved and find out if they are on board, and on board financially. For some, it will be their first exposure. We want them to understand what’s at stake.”

The other counties include Tuscola, Huron, Mason and Sanilac.

The five counties had agreed that half of the legal fees would be shared equally, while the other half would be divided according to the number of wind turbines each county has. Gratiot has the most, although not by a lot.