Styling it as the county’s final offer on a tax abatement package to Hale Community Energy LLC, Hale County commissioners on Monday authorized County Attorney Jim Tirey to present Hale Community Energy LLC, which is developing a large wind energy project, a package that calls for payments in lieu of taxes of about $300,000 annually over the next 10 years.
Admitting that the county’s offer falls short of what company legal representative Lanny Voss suggested during the commissioners’ work session Friday, County Judge Bill Coleman said the latest offer is more than fair for all involved.
“This will serve as a template for other wind energy projects in the county,” Coleman said Monday. “And it’s about half the going rate that other counties are offering for these projects.”
The county’s tax abatement offer as outlined by Coleman calls for payments in lieu of taxes during the first five years of $1,000 annually per nameplate megawatt capacity. That would climb to $1,250 annually per nameplate megawatt capacity for years six through 10. The tax abatements would end following year 10, and project owners would from then on be required to pay full property taxes based on the value of each turbine.
Voss on Friday asked commissioners to cap the payments in lieu of taxes at $200,000 annually since the project is facing higher than anticipated costs on interconnect fees.
However, Coleman said the county’s latest offer does not contain such a cap.
As it stands now, Hale Community Energy LLC could face potential payments of up to $300,000 annually during the first five years of the agreement, if it reaches its full 300 megawatt production capacity as projected, Coleman said. That could climb to $375,000 annually in years six through 10, if the same production target is reached.
“We had to consider a variety of different issues before reaching this decision,” Coleman said. First was to provide tax abatement incentives that would encourage economic development and that could be replicated for future projects. Second was to preserve on behalf of Hale County residents the ability to collect enough payments in lieu of taxes to avoid the necessity of raising ad valorem taxes to make up the difference.
“I think our tax abatement offer to Hale Community Wind Energy accomplishes both goals, and we hope to hear a favorable response to our offer in the near future,” Coleman said Monday.
In other action Monday, commissioners:
–Approved current accounts payable for Oct. 13 through Oct. 27 of $161,807.92 from the general account and $12,126.24 to be reimbursed through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Grant.
–Acknowledged a report from County Treasurer Ida Tyler that the county’s closing balance on Sept. 30 was $15,801,237.81. The county received $29,955.57 during the first nine months of the year from interest on its investments, she reported.
–Authorized Happy State Bank as the county’s financial depository to participate in the Insured Cash Sweep and CDARDS programs.
–Accepted the Hale Center EMS activity report for September showing a record 61 calls, including 29 transfers along with 18 calls within the city of Hale Center and 14 in rural Hale County.
–Approved the hiring to Lisa Wick and David Velez as corrections officers at the Hale County jail, effective Monday.
–Authorized the purchase of 29 protective vests for the sheriff’s office at a total cost of $20,735 with 50 percent of the cost of the body armor to be refunded through a federal grant.
–Heard a report from Max Weatherford of Two-Way Radio of Plainview that the radio console at the sheriff’s office should be replaced soon since the system, which dates to 2005-06, is based on the Windows XP operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft. A new radio console powered by Windows 7 or 8.1 will cost $33,326.
–Approved a resolution designating November 2014 as Home Care and Hospice Month.
–Approved the third-quarter activity report from Lubbock’s University Medical System that its EMS crews made 13 responses within its designated area in and around Abernathy.
–Authorized the purchase of a 2007 model Fast Track zero turn mower from JMS Equipment for $4,850 for used at the Ollie Liner Center and other county locations.
–Approved the 2013 Abernathy Volunteer Fire Department’s activity report, which showed 18 calls within that city, 15 in rural Hale County and 16 in rural Lubbock County. Commissioners authorized payment of a $10,000 stipend to that agency.
–Authorized Atmos Energy to place a natural gas line beneath CR 145 between FM 400 and CR Y.
–Authorized Precinct 1 Commissioner Harold Young and Precinct 2 Commissioner Mario Martinez each to order a John Deere 770G road grader from Yellowhouse Machinery, through the State Buy Board, for delivery in 2015. Each will receive a trade-in of $165,000, making the final cost of the units between $74,000 and $69,832.
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