When a Michigan Tax Tribunal reached a verdict in June about DTE’s wind turbine taxes in Bloomfield and Sigel townships, commissioners felt they did not lose, but did not win either.
The tribunal ruled the county would have to pay back taxes at 6% interest for the years 2016 and 2017, since the ruling stated that DTE paid taxes at a higher rate than agreed upon. The county would have to pay between $60,000 and $70,000 for each of the townships.
Commissioner Mary Babcock, the finance committee chair, said the county had been waiting for a verdict on this matter for the past 21 months and this would affect services paid through property taxes for the townships in the future, such as veteran’s services, senior citizens services, and the intermediate school district.
“This opinion only affects two townships in two years,” Babcock said. “There are still appeals on all the turbines in townships in the state.”
Babcock said the money would come out of reserve funds the county had in place since it anticipated the possibility of paying something back. She could not speak for other townships as she is not sure if they already spent the money received in turbine taxes.
Bloomfield and Sigel townships are appealing the decision, filing in the state court of appeals this past Wednesday. Babcock said this action would hopefully get DTE and Consumers Energy to the table and start negotiating a settlement for the outstanding tax appeals.
Babcock also said there is legislation in the state House and Senate committees, though they are not sure if they can be retroactive with payments. Three state senators, Dan Lauwers, Kevin Daley, and Curt VanderWall were also sent letters asking them to help bring DTE and Consumers to the negotiating table.
“We’ve asked DTE and Consumers to negotiate in the past and they refused,” Babcock said. “If we asked those three senators to approach DTE and Consumers to sit down with us, maybe they’ll come to the table.”
Babcock was not able to say when such future settlement negotiations would happen, though the commissioners want to make sure a settlement is a win-win for everybody.
Bloomfield Township has 41 turbines in its borders – 16 in the DTE Sigel wind farm, 14 in the Big Turtle 2 wind farm, and 11 in the Deerfield wind farm.
Sigel Township has 24 turbines as part of the DTE Sigel wind farm.
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