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axing Options Discussed By Supervisors

July 27, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) was a topic of discussion during the regular meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 25.

During a conference call with John Davis, Attorney with Dorsey & Whitney LLP of Des Moines, the Supervisors asked questions regarding taxing options on the proposed wind turbines within the Palo Alto Wind Energy Project.

"We wanted to talk with you about the possibility and options for TIFing on the windmill project that is going on in Palo Alto County," Keith Wirtz, Supervisor Chairman began. " We were looking at a partial TIF of some type to help out the road issue that is created with all the construction."

"I believe you have already adopted a special valuation ordinance with wind based electric generating facilities, in place and it should cover the entire county," Davis stated. " That's one ingredient you need and you already have this. The next thing you must have is the wind turbine site covered geographically by your urban renewal plan and also by an additional ordinance we call the TIF ordinance. It is a manageable plan that usually takes eight weeks on the ordinance or can be done in as little as four weeks."

Davis went on to explain that there are two items to remember with an urban renewal action is:

1)If you are trying to include any property in the urban renewal plan that is within two miles of any city, you must have the permission of that city in order to include that ground that is near to the municipality;

"This is on place where you just do not have control," Davis told the Supervisors. "Ultimately it would be up to the city or cities

2)Agricultural land is defined for the urban renewal law as any parcel not yet divided into parcels of 10 acres or less and has been used for zthe production of ag commodities for three of the last five years;

"In almost all of these cases, the wind turbines get built on property that more than likely has be utilized for the production of ag commodities," Davis said.

He explained that most of the time the property is subdivided out but if it has not been then the Supervisors must have the landowner's permission to include the ground with the turbine on in the urban renewal plan.

"Permission for what?" Supervisor Linus Solberg asked.

"Permission from the landowner to include their agricultural land in a county urban renewal area," Davis answered.

"What about CRP land?" Solberg questioned. "Is that the same as agricultural land?"

"I would say no. It's been in CRP and out of crop production and it hasn't been used as grazing land, then I we would look at three of the last five years test and it's been out of production for five years then I would say no," Davis responded. "It is not considered ag land and you would not need the landowners permission."

"I can't speak for the rest of the Board, but I think we are thinking about just TIFing 20 percent or something for our roads," Solberg said. "If they screw up a road right now the company has to fix it, but talking with some other counties, they are fixing roads five-six years later. We still have 9,000 people driving these roads and we would like to have some way to fix them"

"Limiting to only some turbines is more difficult," Davis said. "It is easier to TIF all the turbines and limit yourself to a percentage."

"As soon as they bring the project in, we need to get a hold of you to start these other ordinances we need to have?" Solberg asked.

"If it is your will to go forward, you certainly aren't doing yourself any harm by getting started as soon as possible," Davis answered.

At this time the item was tabled until further information can be gathered and discussed.



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