Murray county is home to two wind farms totaling 175 windmills.
When they first arrived they were given a 5 year tax exemption.
Now that their tax exemption has ended the amount they owe is determined by their property value but that value is being disputed.
“For this past year $189 million is what we had it valued at and they’re thinking it should be valued at $78 million,” said Murray County assessor Scott Kirby.
One group that this money would go to is the Davis Public School system, and the dispute means a significant portion of that money is unavailable to them.
“Right now since there’s a huge protest we only get funded off what is not protested,” said Davis Public Schools superintendent Mark Moring. “So say they’re protesting 40 percent of their property taxes we only get 60 percent of that.”
That amounts to nearly $800,000 that would go to the schools being held in escrow.
But because the wind farms are still paying its costing the district money from other sources.
“The school funding formula is a balancing scale basically,” Moring said. “More local less state more state less local and basically both sides of our scale are dropping.”
This problem is not unique to Murray county.
Districts across the state are going through similar disputes with other wind farms.
“Now we’re waiting on the ruling to determine if that could set a precedent as to how these wind farms are valued,” Kirby said.
These disputes can take years to resolve putting school districts like Davis in a difficult position.
“We can withstand it for another, hopefully another year but past that its going to be pretty tough,” Moring said.
For now all the district can do is wait and hope that the higher courts make a decision that helps free up the money they need.
“I believe the Oklahoma supreme court is going to hear a case, an appeal hopefully this summer on this and I think there’s some headway in the house to do something to help fix this problem,” Moring said.
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