The Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) board met March 9 to discuss wind turbine developments in Nodaway County.
According to County Assessor Rex Wallace, there are three potential wind energy companies that are competing against each other for prime location spots in Nodaway County. One of those companies has stated it is looking to invest over $500 million dollars in wind turbine installation. Wallace stated he thinks the development will move forward to completion this time due to the federal clean-energy grant money the companies are receiving.
Wallace said each turbine can cost $2.9 million. It is unknown at this time how many turbines or what turbine wattage would be installed. They would be installed beginning around the new substation in the Nodaway-Holt School District then work their way throughout the county.
Nodaway County Economic Development Director Josh McKim called the EEZ board together to discuss the tax abatement ordinance for wind energy. The original ordinance written in October 2011 has several different components.
Wallace stated the original purpose of the EEZ’s ordinance was twofold: to tell companies exactly how much taxes they would pay before building their business and to determine for taxing entities the amounts they would receive. He stated the ordinance would simplify collections.
The EEZ’s ordinance is complicated. Wallace has been invited to the meetings in an attempt to understand the ordinance and offer input in how to simplify the process.
As it stands, the ordinance states that the tax abatement would be a minimum of $5,900 per megawatt installed and would receive at least a 50 percent abatement but no more than a 60 percent tax abatement. The county has 83 different tax entities’ levies which would make the calculations time intensive for the assessor’s office. The companies want to know exactly how much each tower would pay in taxes, asking county staff to figure each tower’s taxes, based on location, multiple times as they looked for the best deal.
The minimum and maximum percentages pose a second problem to calculations. After a fee had been agreed upon, depending on the tower’s location, the fee could change if it was above or below the percentage abatement markers.
The board members were also concerned that the companies would only place their turbines in the part of the county with the lowest tax levy.
It was a consensus from the board members that a level playing field would encourage the turbines to spread out over the entire county. They suggested dropping the minimum and maximum tax abatement percentages and removing the word “minimum” in front of the fee, making a set fee of $5,900 for any tower, anywhere in the county.
It is unsure at this time if the ordinance amendment needs to be approved by all the taxing entities or if the Nodaway County Commissioners have the authority to approve the changes. McKim placed a call to state officials asking what the correct procedures were and is waiting for an answer.
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