This letter is in regards to the article in the Sept. 29 issue of the Bee-Picayune relating to the proposed zoning change for the wind farm in south Bee County.
The commissioners court agenda contained the issue of procedural changes needed for a vote to progress to the zoning change process. This will ultimately enable the court to issue a tax abatement for the wind farm.
This whole issue was disturbing to me in the sense that the project will ultimately progress with or without an abatement. The company building the farm is from Spain. They have available to them low-interest government loans, subsidies and other valuable incentives. It does not need a Bee County tax abatement for them to progress with the project and be successful.
I have no issue with wind energy, wind farm machinery or any logistics involved with this project. This is of no interest to me or any of the people with whom I have spoken. The issue is the tax abatement and the tax dollars we are forfeiting.
I apologize for not being able to collect complete information for this project because my commissioner, Ken Haggard, has not returned a phone call in three days, despite a dozen or more attempts. Last week, the court voted four to one in favor of moving the procedural process forward. Commissioner Dennis DeWitt was the lone dissenting vote. My question is why the majority of the commissioners voted in affirmation of this procedural issue.
The project will be of no financial benefit to Bee County because it will only produce a minimum of two, with a possibility of 13, permanent jobs. All construction jobs will be handled by out of area contractors, which will include only highly skilled employees already on their payrolls.
When completed, the project will cost between 75 and 108 million dollars. This will generate a taxable asset to the county, at current rates on a five-year tax abatement, of between $2.55 to $3.67 million. On a 10-year tax abatement, this will produce a tax bill to the county of $5.1 to $7.34 million.
Every county taxing entity must approve or disapprove this abatement if it passes all necessary procedural votes. The company has already paid $75,000 to Skidmore-Tynan ISD and Mathis ISD for filing fees. This does not guarantee the school districts will issue a tax abatement.
Bee County must not miss the opportunity to capitalize on this opportunity. Remember, this project will proceed with or without an abatement. We have people on fixed and limited incomes struggling daily to pay their taxes. These same people are being forced to seek monthly payment plans from local taxing entities. The money that this project could produce for Bee County should be used for our county jail. If it is legally possible, earmark this revenue specifically for debt reduction pertaining to the jail.
In closing, I have no ax to grind with the wind power company. My only interest is in Bee County. I have no interest in keeping an international company prosperous. I have to question the four affirmative votes to begin the rezoning process and possible abatement conclusion. Call your commissioner or attend the court meeting and tell them Bee County is more important than this international company.
It is quite possible upon completion, this company could sell this project to someone else for a profit, and the possible tax abatement would be icing on the cake.
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