Am I the only Lewis County taxpayer disturbed by the conduct of our elected and appointed county officials?
Two interesting articles in one week shed the light on how the wind industry is slowly destabilizing the local economy of Lewis County, yet the county manager and the county attorney continue on as though all is well in the world.
The first article addresses the lawsuit brought against the county by local wind developers who believe that they are entitled to a 97 percent reduction in its tax assessments and that the more then 200 turbines already erected on Tug Hill do not represent real property.
This is a move by the wind industry that will render any future payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements unnecessary. If the wind towers are not real property and the wind developers don’t have to pay taxes on them, what incentive do they have to negotiate a PILOT agreement?
PILOTs are made by the developer to local government organizations instead of paying their full share of taxes. These PILOTS were intended as a way to help new businesses create stable jobs in the area.
Unfortunately, these PILOTS for wind developers have become nothing more than corporate welfare and should never be renegotiated.
The wind farm has created 12 full-time jobs, and the Deer River wind project is estimated to create six full-time jobs. The county manager’s arrogant reply is a dangerous one and should make taxpayers irate. Ryan Piche states that “at the end of the day, the judge will probably rule right down the middle.”
Probably rule right down the middle? How will that benefit taxpayers, Mr. Piche? And tell us how you know the judge will probably rule this way.
The second issue is the over-budget construction of the new Jefferson Community College satellite campus in Lewis County. Ryan Piche likes to use this project as an example of how great these tax-subsidized wind farms are for the community.
Over-budget by $2 million – this will now come out of the taxpayers wallets. I again take offense to the cavalier comments provided by the county manager. Mr. Piche states that $2 million “is a little over-budget” and the county can easily cover this by borrowing money from Lewis County General Hospital and that this won’t affect the taxpayers. I’m not an accountant, but I can figure out that this is the ole “steal from Peter to pay Paul”-style of money management, and this will most certainly impact taxpayers down the road, especially if the hospital runs into any financial hardships like past history suggests it will.
Lewis County residents should be on high alert in the years to come as the wind industry is in the process of gaining approval to build more wind farms across the county with little if any benefit to the taxpayers. The county leaders now in place are falling for it hook, line and sinker.
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