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Is the tax break justified? Tazewell debates enterprise zone status

A proposed wind farm cleared one more hurdle Wednesday night after a committee recommended it become part of a Tazewell County enterprise zone. Tazewell County’s executive committee voted 9-2 to recommend to the full county board that the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC, be included in the zone. But the committee’s decision went against the legal opinion of Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz’s office.

State’s attorney: Wind farm site doesn’t qualify
A proposed wind farm cleared one more hurdle Wednesday night after a committee recommended it become part of a Tazewell County enterprise zone.

Tazewell County’s executive committee voted 9-2 to recommend to the full county board that the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC, be included in the zone.

But the committee’s decision went against the legal opinion of Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz’s office.

Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Holly told the committee that the area in the southern part of the county is not an economically depressed area and doesn’t have poverty, unemployment or economic distress, which are requirements for enterprise zones.

The city of Pekin and Tazewell County control the enterprise zone jointly and are working on extending the zone to include 38 wind towers, providing Horizon with sales tax abatements.

In exchange, Horizon would pay the city and county a $300,000 certification fee that they would split evenly, said Tazewell County Administrator David Jones.

An earlier GateHouse Media story incorrectly stated that the city of Pekin alone would get a $250,000... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

State’s attorney: Wind farm site doesn’t qualify
A proposed wind farm cleared one more hurdle Wednesday night after a committee recommended it become part of a Tazewell County enterprise zone.

Tazewell County’s executive committee voted 9-2 to recommend to the full county board that the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC, be included in the zone.

But the committee’s decision went against the legal opinion of Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz’s office.

Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Holly told the committee that the area in the southern part of the county is not an economically depressed area and doesn’t have poverty, unemployment or economic distress, which are requirements for enterprise zones.

The city of Pekin and Tazewell County control the enterprise zone jointly and are working on extending the zone to include 38 wind towers, providing Horizon with sales tax abatements.

In exchange, Horizon would pay the city and county a $300,000 certification fee that they would split evenly, said Tazewell County Administrator David Jones.

An earlier GateHouse Media story incorrectly stated that the city of Pekin alone would get a $250,000 certification fee.

Holly said although extending enterprise zones with 3-foot contiguous strips of land may be common practice, he and Umholtz cautioned against the idea.

“I don’t believe this meets the standards and intent of that (state enterprise zone) act,” Holly said.

Committee member Mike Godar agreed and voted against the recommendation, along with member Carroll Imig.

But other members said the property tax Horizon would pay on the towers is the only new source of revenue that part of the county can hope for.

“It’s hard to get economic development in the middle of nowhere,” said Greg Sinn.

The project would cover more than 11,000 acres of farmland straddling Tazewell and Logan counties just east of Interstate 155. An additional 29 towers would be located in Logan County.

The Pekin City Council voted April 14 to approve extending the zone.

Both the Logan County Board and Lincoln City Council have voted to extend the Lincoln-Logan County Enterprise Zone to the wind farm construction site. The Tazewell County Board will now vote whether it will take a similar move.

Bill Whitlock, project development manager for the proposed farm, said the project would likely proceed if Tazewell County doesn’t grant its approval.

 


Source: http://www.lincolncourier.c...

APR 24 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/14640-is-the-tax-break-justified-tazewell-debates-enterprise-zone-status
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