In the Dec. 9 Herald & Review article, “Court filing challenges wind farm,” there was this sentence: “An estimated $32.5 million of the money would go toward the Maroa-Forsyth and Warrensburg-Latham school districts.”
This sentence is misleading. The wind developer’s application to the Macon County Board identifies $32.5 million as the estimated new tax revenue that would be allocated to the two school districts but goes on to note that for every new dollar of tax revenue that a district receives the state decreases the amount of state aid. The application shows the net increase to the Maroa-Forsyth district is less than $4.5 million and Warrensburg a little over $4.1 million.
These estimated tax revenues are over 30 years. The average yearly net increase for Maroa-Forsyth and Warrensburg districts would be $150,000 each. This increase would hardly cover two new positions in each district.
These values are not guaranteed either by the wind farm developer or the state. Whether these districts will receive any of this estimated revenue is uncertain.
First, these estimates are arrived at from Public Act 095-0644. This statute, which treats turbines as real estate, expires in December 2016. Once that statute expires, it is likely turbine companies will argue that turbines are not real estate but personal property. A similar argument was successful for the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois. There may be zero tax dollars from this project. The school, county, and township purported tax benefits would not occur.
Second, the legislature and the governor are discussing revising the formula for how state aid is allocated to school districts and also methods to decrease the amount of property tax that goes to state aid for public schools. No one can guess what the outcome will be from these discussions.
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