PAWNEE – The state Comptroller’s Office has approved a tax-abatement application for a wind farm planned for north Bee County that could bring 60 turbines generating as much as 252 megawatts of electricity.
Helena Wind LLC sought a certificate of limitation on appraised value from maintenance and operations property taxes billed by the Pawnee Independent School District, which approved its portion of the application in January. According to the application, the company proposes a 25,000-acre project area, which Helena Wind would include in a reinvestment zone. It is located between the area south of Farm-to-Market Road 623 to just north of FM 798.
The comptroller’s office May 26 notified Pawnee ISD Superintendent Michelle Hartmann that it granted Helena Wind’s request.
However, resident Joe Carter addressed the Bee County Commissioners Court at its June 22 meeting, asking that the commissioners present to the comptroller’s office an analysis prepared by Carter and fellow resident Austin Brown. They allege that the economic impact of the tax abatement is not as advantageous to the Pawnee ISD as officials are being led to believe.
Prior to Carter’s remarks, Precinct 2 Commissioner Dennis DeWitt moved that the court take no action on the matter, which he said is moot because of the comptroller’s prior approval of the tax-abatement request.
“This is Pawnee Independent School District’s business, not the commissioners court’s business,” he said. “We shouldn’t be getting into their business.”
DeWitt’s motion passed unanimously.
Carter said, “The wind turbine company, Helena Wind, provided no evidence, no comparable evidence, that their project would be worth for taxable value in the future what they project it would be.”
In its application, Helena Wind lists the total annual tax levy of the property as $705,660. The company wants 10 years in tax incentives starting in 2022, in the amount of $387,660 – almost 55 percent – per year. As a result, the net tax levy would be $318,000.
Pawnee ISD Superintendent Michelle Hartmann also addressed the commissioners, thanking them for choosing not to take action on the matter and praising the due diligence of the district’s trustees and professional staff.
“We respect the process you have before you, and again I just want to go on record to say that the state comptroller has already approved the application after doing an extensive economic income analysis,” she said. “And a report of that information, other than that or what comes directly from the district via the board of trustees should be the only information considered.”
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