BEEVILLE – County leaders are looking at three options for the future taxing of the wind farm proposed in Bee County.
For Joe Carter who spoke to commissioners during their meeting Dec. 20, only one was suitable.
“I think that you need to not give a lot of consideration to any form of taxation other than the way everybody else is taxed,” he told commissioners during public comment.
Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said that the court could offer no abatement, which would allow for the full property taxing on the wind farm, or agree to an abatement.
There is a third option and one the court has not used recently.
Referred to as payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, this allows the county to stipulate exactly how much the company pays per year without any consideration for their profitability.
The project being proposed is described as a $300 million facility in the area of Pawnee and Pettus on the county’s north end.
DeWitt received approval for an attorney, who could also represent the county, to explain this type of agreement in greater detail.
“This payment comes in as a contract, not a tax, and it affects your budget differently,” DeWitt said.
It would not affect the rollback rate, he adds.
A similar agreement was just reached by county leaders in Goliad.
There, a 273.2-megawatt solar power farm is being proposed. The agreement with Tulsita Solar Company calls for the company to pay $788 per megawatt of the $250 million facility.
This will mean about $216,000 paid to the county instead of standard taxes.
Representatives from Lincoln Clean Energy, or now its parent company Orsted, spoke to commissioners in Beeville about their proposed 250-megawatt wind farm in early December in preparation for their expected abatement request.
Eric Barnett, with Lincoln, said that they have 11,000 acres under lease and are working to get more contracts signed with residents for what is being designated as the Helena Project.
The company intends not only to ask the county for a tax abatement, or reduction in taxes, but also from the school boards in Pawnee and Pettus.
Barnett said he would be in Pawnee at its school trustee meeting in January and in Pettus later this year.
The company conducted a survey saying its employees called 5,000 people within Bee County asking their opinion about the project. Of those, 25 percent of households responded. In a county with a population of 32,563, the survey included responses from 1,250 residents, or about 3 percent of the population.
While a majority of people living in Precinct 2 didn’t respond, “We actually found that of those that responded (in precincts 1 and 2), two to one support the project to generate property tax revenue to enhance county services,” said Matthew Crosby, director of policy with the company.
During his speech to commissioners, Carter countered by reminding them, “That’s not really the random selection of people in the county.”
Commissioners have made no decision regarding whether any type of tax reduction will be offered to the Orsted company.
“Texas ranks as one of the best states for business and economic growth because of the incentives we offer businesses,” County Judge Stephanie Moreno said this past week. “These programs are why 1,000 people are moving to Texas every day.
“We can speculate as to whether businesses will come without an abatement, but we know for sure the wind farm in south Bee County was a win for S-TISD and that it created good paying jobs.
“But if a community opposes any form of industry in their area, it is something we should consider.
“We are not desperate for new businesses, but we do need to continue to provide incentives for growth.
“Our community is poised for a lot of opportunity, and I look forward to exploring our options and continuing our efforts to attract new jobs here in Bee County.”
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