December 8, 2021

Proposal to change property tax rates on wind turbines in Page County fails

Ryan Matheny |

(Clarinda) – An attempt to repeal a Page County ordinance granting special valuation to wind turbine properties has failed.

Meeting in regular session Tuesday night, the Page County Supervisors voted down a proposal from Supervisor Jacob Holmes that would tax wind turbines and their associated properties at the same rate as commercial properties in the county. In 2008, the board approved an incremental tax assessment that taxes turbines at 0% of their assessed valuation in their first year and increases the rate by 5% annually until it reaches 30% in year seven. Holmes says he asked County Assessor Jason Renander to run a comparison between taxing the structures at the special rate versus the standard commercial rate of 90% of assessed value.

“If you look at the taxes collected, because this ordinance is in place right now currently on the books, if they were to build wind turbines, over 10 years per wind turbine, they would pay $96,000 total over 10 years,” said Holmes. “If they pay like every other single commercial property owner in Page County, everyone that employs people and all of them, they would pay $443,000 on the same thing.”

Holmes says he feels wind turbines should be taxed at the same rate as other commercial property in the county.

“This would be the smartest decision we could ever make in repealing this ordinance,” said Holmes. “I also think if they paid the same as every other business owner – the same thing, not a dollar more – and we brought in the same taxes we collect from everybody, we could probably back off the taxes, which would help them too and everyone. It would be an even way to do this.”

Holmes’ proposal was defeated by no votes from Supervisors Chuck Morris and Alan Armstrong. Morris says increasing the tax rate on wind turbines would ultimately lead to projects being developed in other counties and not in Page County.

“It’s interesting to me that there have been so many attempts to stop the development of wind and it’s not about money,” said Morris. “Well, now tonight it’s all about ‘let’s get more money.’ Because, you know darn good and well that that would prohibit a project from coming forward. We would lose the project.”

Holmes says the proposal is not about stopping wind from coming into Page County.

“I have never been about stopping wind,” said Holmes. “All I have ever said for years is make them come fair and right. Fair is paying the same taxes. Fair is putting them from the property line. I’ve said that 100 times. If they come fair, I don’t care if they cover the whole county if it’s fair. I do not care, if it’s fair and right and if people agree to it, but you do not take people’s rights and you do not charge one guy 90% and one guy not even 30%.”

The current ordinance governing wind turbine valuations was passed in September 2008 by then-Supervisors Jim Richardson, Jon Herzberg and Elaine Armstrong.

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