Lincoln Co. Considering Options for Wind Turbine Revenue | News, Sports, Jobs

Independent file photo The wind turbines can be seen from Highway 19 just outside Ivanhoe in October 2019.

IVANHOE – Lincoln County officials have many options when it comes to tax revenue for wind turbines.

Turbine revenues are expected to total at least $ 500,000 in the coming years. It translates into the ability to cover about 10 percent of the total county budget from a source other than the general tax levy.

At a meeting in December, the commissioners discussed whether or not to grant tax breaks in response to turbine-related funding.

While board members are interested in offsetting a portion of the income with tax breaks, there is also a desire to invest in large expense items with the idea of ​​lowering taxes in the long run. Commissioner Dean Nielsen has said he would like to see at least tax relief to ease the current tax burden.

“People are concerned about their property taxes”, Nielsen said. “We may need to invest some of the revenue from the wind in county projects, but some should go back to taxpayers. If our revenue increases, the amount of tax relief should also increase.”

The council discussed two main possibilities for using the revenue from wind turbines. They involve the repayment of loan funds for county-wide broadband telecommunications expansion and the financing of the replacement of bridges on county roads.

Broadband loans could be repaid faster than their expected 10-year term, resulting in substantial savings in interest.

The replacement of the bridges could be financed without increasing the local tax. Otherwise, they could become one of the main factors for future increases in withdrawals.

“We will get tax relief even if we spend the money on broadband infrastructure or bridges,” said Commissioner Mic VanDeVere. “We wouldn’t have to collect some of these costs. This could lead to a long period of very minimal tax increases. “

VanDeVere said stable property taxes would work favorably for county landowners and homeowners. He noted that they bear considerable shares of the tax burden due to county-wide limitations on the amount of commercial property.

“It’s about knowing what is worse” he said. “We can either give tax breaks and have to resume them later with larger tax increases, or we can have stable budgets. It might work better in the long run if we don’t provide relief.

He added that the county’s infrastructure investments will last for many years, a factor that could help ease tax increases for many years to come.

County road engineer Joe Wilson said investing the revenue from the turbines in roads and bridges would help have a phased and comprehensive plan to keep the county’s transportation network in good shape. This could happen with only modest increases in the county tax.

“A bridge replacement takes many years” Wilson said. “There are advantages to using additional income to fund it. It would be a good investment. “

Further discussions on potential tax breaks and investment opportunities are expected in the first half of 2022. This will shape Lincoln County’s budget decisions made for 2023.

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