WATERLOO | Black Hawk County supervisors want to ensure a full public airing of any concerns regarding a proposed ordinance that would offer tax breaks for wind turbines, even as little of the apprehension expressed so far relates directly to the proposal.
Supervisors approved the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday, but they plan to hold two more hearings before they would vote to adopt the tax relief ordinance.
Kirk Kraft, of regional wind farm developer RPM Access, was the only person to speak at Tuesday’s public hearing on the issue. RPM Access asked the board of supervisors to adopt an ordinance based on state law that allows counties to tax wind turbines below their actual property value.
“It’s a very common ordinance,” Kraft told the supervisors. “It looks like the other 12 or 13 that I already have on file from other counties.”
If the ordinance is approved, wind turbines would be taxed at up to 30 percent of their “net acquisition cost” valuation, following state code that allows counties to adopt the tax breaks.
Supervisor John Miller said he received some phone calls voicing a few concerns about the proposed ordinance.
“None of them were extremely adamant or upset; they were expressing concerns,” Miller said.
Miller said the concerns were about who is responsible for removing the turbines once they’ve outlived their usefulness and who is responsible for any property damages that occur in installing the turbines on properties.
Kraft said the concerns are nothing he hasn’t heard, and he said those issues are typically addressed in either the contract with the landowner or through the county’s zoning ordinances, both of which generally make the company responsible for removal and for any property damages.
“We can only be on a landowner’s property if he looks at our agreement, decides it’s something that he wants to do and is willing to participate,” Kraft said. “We can’t force these on anybody.”
Supervisor Frank Magsamen noted those concerns are related to zoning and physically installing the turbines and not the issue at hand, which is whether to offer tax relief for those turbines.
“I think we’re talking about two different issues here. We’re talking about an issue of what the assessed value will be on these wind generating facilities. What you’re talking about is more of a planning and zoning issue that we have in place, so when they come to get their request for the permits, that would probably be the proper time to make those discussions” Magsamen said.
He said the supervisors want to get the fullest input possible, so they will hold all three hearings readings on the ordinance. Tuesday’s public hearing was recessed until another one can be held at 9:05 a.m. April 7 to give time for oral and written comments to be received.