County commissioners court has started planning its budget for the coming year, and one commissioner noted Monday the county won’t be receiving the amount of revenue it had previously expected from a wind farm development in central Val Verde County.
County Commissioner Pct. 3 Beau Nettleton made his observations during a county commissioners court budget workshop Monday.
The discussion of the wind farm tax revenue came during a discussion of the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 county budget and the various sources of revenue that are expected to pay for county expenditures.
County Commissioner Pct. 2 Lewis Owens noted the county’s appraised property values had gone up slightly over the past year.
“Are you aware of the wind farm valuation now?” County Auditor Matthew Weingardt asked the court, adding, “They did go before the (appraisal) review board and got (their valuation) down to $101 million.”
“How can that be?” Owens asked.
“The appraisal was lowered that much?” asked County Commissioner Pct. 1 Martin Wardlaw.
“That was the entity’s value, what the entity, the appraisal district, thought they should be taxed at,” Weingardt replied.
When Nettleton asked who set the original valuation on the wind farm property, Weingardt said, “Pickett,” naming a coming contracted by the appraisal district to assess oil and gas valuations in the county.
He added the wind farm owners told the appraisal district “they just couldn’t make their tax payments.”
“So we pay Pickett to go out and appraise wind farms and our oil and gas interest and everything else, and the appraisal district picks a number and decides that’s the real number?” Nettleton asked.
“From when I was sitting in there, that’s what it looked like happened,” Weingardt said.
Owens noted that Weingardt had called to see “what the numbers looked like” for the wind farm in Kinney County.
“And we were coming up closer to the $175, $190 range, based on what everybody around us is doing,” Owens said.
“How do we counter that?” Wardlaw asked.
“Well we can’t; it’s the appraisal district,” Nettleton said.
“The name of the game here is don’t spend the money until you get it, because we were counting on quite a bit,” observed County Commissioner Pct. 4 Gustavo “Gus” Flores.
“Yes, it’s a $400,000 decrease,” Weingardt said.
“Interesting, that we’re stuck in this situation. It’s hard to pick up the unfunded mandates of the state when the appraisal district, which was created by the state, is not appraising them for what they should be appraised,” Nettleton said.
“Well, it was appraised correctly, but they (the wind farm company) took it before the (appraisal) review board,” Weingardt said.
He noted his understanding was that the wind farm “had been willing to accept” the $175 million appraisal.
“And then our (review) board decided that wasn’t good enough, that they would go down to $101 … and we left $70 million on the table,” Nettleton said.
The court took no action following the discussion.
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