BAD AXE – Huron County Commissioner Ron Wruble shared the latest proposal on the taxation of wind turbines with the board Tuesday morning.
A preliminary trending table from the state tax commission would assess turbines at a 100 percent initial value, plateauing at 30 percent in 10 years.
The schedule is in between two tables that have split energy companies and municipalities.
In the fall of 2011 the state tax commission lowered the taxable value of wind turbines. Wind turbines went from a 100 percent assessment in year one, with a scheduled depreciation to 30 percent value in 15 years, to an 80 percent initial assessment, with a depreciation to 30 percent value in six years.
However, local assessors and boards of review can go by the old depreciation schedule if they feel it more accurately describes the true cash value of turbines.
When that happened in Gratiot County’s Wheeler Township, DTE decided to file an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
Huron officials, along with officials from other turbine-heavy counties, such as Sanilac, Mason and Tuscola, saw the potential for the same thing to happen to them. They decided to form the Michigan Renewable Energy Collaborative with Gratiot County, in an effort to support their cause and share legal costs.
Wruble suggested on Tuesday that appeals could be coming up shortly in Huron County, as most local assessors have gone by the original table.
MREC, energy company officials and the state tax commission have been meeting in order to come up with a compromise, hoping to avoid lengthy and costly court time.
Wruble said he wasn’t sure what officials would think of the suggested trending table, as the state tax commission was the one who developed it.
“I don’t know if the taxpayer, being the utility company, are going to agree with this or not agree with this,” Wruble said. “It was just something that was thrown out to kind of see if it would stick to the wall I guess.”
When asked what he thought of it by Commissioner Steve Vaughan, Wruble had a question of his own.
“Without swearing?” Wruble asked.
Wruble said that it would be roughly two-thirds of a loss from the original table, if the plan was put in place.
Commissioners noted that under that original table values dropped at about 5 percent each year.
Under the proposed table there would be a 20 percent drop in year two, and a 10 percent drop in year five, reaching 30 percent in year 10. While it would be a quicker decline in values than the original table, it would be less than the current one, which starts off at 80 percent value, and gets to 30 percent in year six.
“What you’ve got here is what some would see as a middle ground between the original table and the current one,” Commissioner David Peruski said.
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