Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 17, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Dec. 17, 2012

Let’s study effects of turbines first

As a rural homeowner (not a city person) who was invited to live in beautiful Tipton County by a farmer with their creation of our small residential area, I don’t believe it is about telling farmers what they can do with their land. It is about ensuring the safety and well-being of all who would be living near the industrial turbines and to ensure that any economic boost to the area does not come at the stark expense of rural homeowners who have their life savings invested in their homes.

I am not against wind turbines as a whole when properly sized and located, and the citizenry properly protected. And as an academic librarian, I am well-versed in information evaluation. I understand the difference between research funded by the wind industry and peer-reviewed research done by independent academics in the last two years such as “Values in the Wind” (Heintzelman, Tuttle 2012) which determined “that nearby wind facilities significantly reduce property values in two of the three counties studied” over a nine-year period in New York. And Havas and Colling in their work, “Wind Turbines Make Waves: Why Some Residents Near Wind Turbines Become Ill” (2011), who determined there is indeed a negative effect for some residents due to noise, infrasound and poor power quality.

This is a rapidly evolving area of research, and as Rob Rupe, Sharpsville council member stated, let’s be sure we understand all the implications before making this 20-year commitment that irrevocably changes the lives of both farm residents and rural homeowners.

While the commissioners and planning commission have worked hard, new information in this field makes it prudent to take this opportunity to reconsider. I urge the Tipton City Council to table the tax abatement and give the citizens of Tipton County further opportunity to review and understand the long-term effects of this decision and to update the protective ordinance.

And I also urge the newly- mindful residents to assist in resolving funding issues for our schools. I know I plan to.

Kirsten Leonard, Sharpsville


Abatements aren’t useful for wind farm

Tax abatements are used by local government to attract private investment and job creation by exempting from property taxes all or a portion of the new or increased assessed value resulting from new investment.  They are a way local governments can encourage businesses to make investments – primarily to create or retain a significant number of jobs. That investment by both the county and the company is also expected to have a ripple effect: to add to the tax rolls eventually, creating new investment activity and even more jobs.

But in the case of wind farms, do property tax abatements really accomplish those objectives, or do they just shift the tax burden from the company to all the other county taxpayers? By granting abatement, is waiving half of the property taxes otherwise payable by the company over the next 10 years – many millions of dollars – really worth it for just a couple local permanent jobs and no hope of creating even more? If the amount of assessed value in a community is lower because some property has been abated, then the tax rate on the rest of the assessed value must be higher.

Further, personal property like wind turbines drop rapidly in value. There is a standard MACRS depreciation schedule on the assessed value of equipment; by the time you actually get to tax it, most of the value isn’t there anymore, so you never really get to tax the equipment at its full value once you approve the abatement.

If lower taxes really create economic development for the abated entity, then why not lower taxes for ALL taxpayers and spur economic development all over the place for everyone? Because it doesn’t make sense; someone has to pay the taxes!

When a company will not relocate to, or make a new investment in, the county without the tax abatement and a significant number of jobs are at stake, abatement may be a justifiable incentive. The county gets a lot of jobs by agreeing to collect a much smaller portion of property taxes it would have otherwise levied over the next 10 years.    

But when very few jobs are at stake as is the case with a wind farm, how does it make any sense?

Nick Stanger, Roanoke