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Commission approves tax break for wind farm

Cascade County commissioners on Tuesday approved a tax break for United Material's Horseshoe Bend wind facility, the state's second largest wind farm located outside of Great Falls. Approval came over the objections of union heads, who said United shouldn't qualify for a tax break because it did not pay all of the workers on the wind farm project prevailing wages. United Materials countered that prevailing wages were offered for the vast majority of the work. ...Horseshoe Bend, which was completed in 2006, was the second commercial-scale wind facility completed in Montana, behind the 135-megawatt farm in Judith Gap. The approval of the tax break followed a public hearing on the tax break request. Three union representatives spoke against it.

Cascade County commissioners on Tuesday approved a tax break for United Material's Horseshoe Bend wind facility, the state's second largest wind farm located outside of Great Falls.

Approval came over the objections of union heads, who said United shouldn't qualify for a tax break because it did not pay all of the workers on the wind farm project prevailing wages.

United Materials countered that prevailing wages were offered for the vast majority of the work.

The tax break is set aside for qualifying new and expanding businesses.
Commissioners Lance Olson and Peggy Beltrone said United deserved the tax break, noting its pioneering work in the state's emerging wind industry.

The 9-megawatt facility, which has six wind towers, is located west of Great Falls.

"I think this is the least we can do to help that project along," said Olson, a Republican.

United will pay 50 percent of the taxable value for the first five years and progressively more beginning in the sixth year until year 10, when 100 percent of the taxes are due. United, Cascade County and the state Department of Revenue are currently in discussions about when the tax break will take effect.

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Cascade County commissioners on Tuesday approved a tax break for United Material's Horseshoe Bend wind facility, the state's second largest wind farm located outside of Great Falls.

Approval came over the objections of union heads, who said United shouldn't qualify for a tax break because it did not pay all of the workers on the wind farm project prevailing wages.

United Materials countered that prevailing wages were offered for the vast majority of the work.

The tax break is set aside for qualifying new and expanding businesses.
Commissioners Lance Olson and Peggy Beltrone said United deserved the tax break, noting its pioneering work in the state's emerging wind industry.

The 9-megawatt facility, which has six wind towers, is located west of Great Falls.

"I think this is the least we can do to help that project along," said Olson, a Republican.

United will pay 50 percent of the taxable value for the first five years and progressively more beginning in the sixth year until year 10, when 100 percent of the taxes are due. United, Cascade County and the state Department of Revenue are currently in discussions about when the tax break will take effect.

Democrat Beltrone, a self-described wind cheerleader, said she was extremely proud of the Great Falls wind farm.

In the future, she said, wind development is "going to be great for labor."

"We are ready to build out in Montana, and it's going to be good for everyone," she said.

Horseshoe Bend, which was completed in 2006, was the second commercial-scale wind facility completed in Montana, behind the 135-megawatt farm in Judith Gap.

The approval of the tax break followed a public hearing on the tax break request. Three union representatives spoke against it.

Dwight Rose, with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 233, said companies that don't "pay decent wages" should not get tax breaks.

Bob McIntyre, one of the owners of United, noted that paying prevailing wages is not one of the requirements of receiving the new and expanding business tax incentive.

"Without question, more than 90 percent of the work was done paying prevailing wage," he said.

The prevailing wage was brought up because it is a requirement to receive a different kind of tax break.

United also happens to be seeking that tax benefit as well. Under that assistance, which is meant for developers of renewable energy, United's tax rate would go from 6 percent to 3 percent.

Whether two subcontracting electricians were paid prevailing wages is at issue, McIntyre said. The subcontractors did a month's worth of work on final wiring, McIntyre said. The bulk of the electrical work, which involved building the substation and bringing in collector lines, was done by workers who earned prevailing wages, he said.




Source: http://www.greatfallstribun...

MAR 26 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/14010-commission-approves-tax-break-for-wind-farm
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