It’s an issue causing quite the stir in Osceola County. The Board of Supervisors hopes to pass an urban renewal plan making a local wind farm part of Tax Increment Financing or TIF. While the issue is complicated, it seems pretty straight forward to many in the area.
The Board of Supervisors Meeting Tuesday morning had to be held in the county court room due to the size of the crowd. The issue? TIF.
Tax Increment Financing or TIF is supposed to be a way for counties to attract new business growth and increased tax revenues over time. But the people in Harris and, Lake Park say Osceola County is abusing it by not using it as intended.
Due to public pressure over the issue, a previously proposed Urban Renewal Plan was scrapped Tuesday, and the public hearing cancelled, in order for the board to re-evaluate and come up with a new plan.
The basic idea though is that the county wants to take the tax dollars from a local wind farm that’s been operating for years, and re-allocate them using TIF.
“They should just cancel it as far as I’m concerned, personally.” says Dan Breuker of Harris, Iowa. “But I think they’re just trying to stall time because the majority of us are farmers, they’re trying to get us into a busier time of year where we won’t take time from our field work to come to these meetings, and then I think they’ll probably try and slip it through at that time.”
After the meeting I waited for 45 minutes to try and get an interview with someone from the board of supervisors while they were in session. They declined and handed me only a piece of paper with a statement from the chairman.:
“At this point I believe, and the action of the board today indicates, that the best route forward is to restart the process with a plan that better reflects ideas and projects.”
Farmers who have some of the wind turbines on their property say they only allowed them to be built there with the promise of tax relief for things like the Harris- Lake Park School. Now they’re fearful of what will happen to their taxes in a time farmers are already struggling.
“We allowed them to be built in our area, that’s the number one thing. They’re built in our area, they’re paying taxes in our area. We own the ground underneath the turbines and they want to divert the taxes from our area to other areas or other uses. ” says Al Bruggeman of Harris, Iowa.
The board has scheduled a meeting in Osceola County next Tuesday to discuss the potential for a new urban renewal plan. If and when they agree upon a new, more detailed idea they would then reschedule another public hearing.
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