For the past several months of the wind turbine controversy, commissioners Holly Stacy and Shayne Thomas (who are very much in favor of the wind projects) have repeatedly stated that massive tax breaks for the 143 monster turbines had been approved by “former” commissioners and there was nothing they could do to change that situation. Because wind projects are never built without such tax breaks, this is a very important point. Those opposed know that the best hope of stopping the transformation of our county into an industrial power generating facility was with the refusal of a tax break.
But at the Tuesday commissioner meeting, it was revealed that in fact the massive tax breaks have NOT yet been approved. The residents of Seneca County have been severely misled by the majority of the commissioners. At this point, we cannot know if the misleading was intentional or not, but either way, the result is the same. The voice of opposition has never been allowed meaningful input because it was speaking against a decision that was supposedly irreversible.
So where do we go from here? Thomas says he favors keeping the resolution (alternative energy zone) in force that will automatically approve the tax breaks when the projects become eligible, thereby continuing to prevent the citizens from having any meaningful input. This position is akin to tightening a lid on the pressure cooker while turning up the heat. The county does not deserve to be treated this way! What kind of a “leader” would do this to the people they represent? This is the methodology of dictators and not a representative government.
Another path would be to rescind the AEZ resolution and require a vote by the commissioners to approve or disapprove the tax breaks. Number one, this would allow for negotiations that could bring three times as much tax money into the county and schools. If we are going to sacrifice our county to host 143 spinning monsters 648 feet tall with red flashing lights and health issues, then why would we want to do it without being more fairly compensated? The proposed tax breaks as structured now only sound like a lot of money because they are multiplied by 30 years to appear so. In reality, we would be giving away our county for peanuts. Intelligent people do not do things like this.
Rescinding the AEZ also would take the lid off the pressure cooker. Sure, it would boil over, but it no longer would be explosive. The entire subject would be allowed free and open meaningful debate, with the decision open to going either way. Let everyone on both sides of the issue have their say. Do a thorough cost vs. benefits analysis. Let everyone who must live with the consequences be in on the decision, not just two commissioners with stonewalling positions. And if the people do decide to proceed with a wind project, let’s not give away our county for peanuts but demand a truly meaningful amount of compensation. These projects would be our legacy to the next generations. God forbid they look back on us as being uncaring and unintelligent.