BAD AXE – Huron County commissioners this week delayed action to hire an examiner to ensure personal property tax values – particularly for wind energy turbines – are being reported accurately.
“There are some huge discrepancies as to how they are being represented,” said Commissioner Ron Wruble, who chairs the Finance Committee.
Wruble is referring to the values that are being reported by owners of local wind energy developments. He introduced a motion Tuesday to contract with Mike Krause to provide personal property investigative services to the county. Krause, a retired CEO from Thumb Electric Cooperative, can examine any type of personal property. He is a member of the Huron County Economic Development Corp. and Michigan Renewable Energy Coalition (MREC), and has been very active in researching the taxable values of wind turbines. Also, he is very involved with MREC and its efforts to work with the state on reaching a compromise regarding future taxable values of wind turbines.
But the issue here involves the current values that are being reported.
“From one township to another, or one development to another, they’re not consistent on what is being reported,” Wruble said. “… There should be some semblance of consistency, being they’re relatively the same type of application and equipment (that were) built at the same time.”
This isn’t a new issue, as Wruble explained there have been discrepencies ever since the first wind park was constructed in Ubly. That development, now called Exelon Michigan Wind I, was being reported as an entire development.
“When in actuality, the underground wiring (and) some of the other amenities that actually are utility personal property tax should have been broken out – and that usually is 15 percent of the project, and it’s taxed differently than the wind turbine components,” Wruble said. “Right from day one, we’ve been working with the (Michigan) Tax Commission, working with Lansing on the first wind farm.”
Officials were able to correct that issue. Currently there are townships contracting with Krause to address these types of issues with wind energy developments. Wruble said the idea to have the county contract with Krause came as a result of those current arrangements.
“At the township level, and even at the county level, we don’t have the expertise on staff to look at these things from an objective point of view,” Wruble said. “Mr. Krause has the technical knowledge and experience – it’s going to be very beneficial to the townships and to the county.
The idea is it would be more convenient for the county to contract with Krause, and then have the townships that use his services reimburse the county, Wruble said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to suspend discussion so all the commissioners would have time to review the contract, and so things like workmen’s compensation and insurance can be addressed.
“It’s not a matter of whether we want someone in that position – it’s a matter of getting the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted,” Wruble said, noting he’s sure the board eventually will unanimously approve the motion.
The board’s next regular meeting is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 24. Prior to then, the board will meet for a meeting of the whole at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 305 of the County Building in downtown Bad Axe.
Editor’s note: Mike Krause’s proposed title is “examiner.” This article was updated at 9 a.m. Friday, September 13, 2013, to reflect this.
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