Montague and Clay Counties warn Bellevue ISD against wind farms

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Many residents in Montague and Clay Counties warned Bellevue ISD about entering into a Texas Tax Code 313 agreement. There have been debates at school board meetings for over three months all due to a possible wind farm project.

John Greer lives in Dallas County but he and his family have owned land in Clay County for over a hundred years. He is a part of Clay County Against Wind Farms.

Greer feels wind farms have negative economic and quality of life effects on communities. He said, "This [project] has been rumored for a while, and just recently it started getting some legs with some land owners leasing to the wind farms. But, what they do next is they go after the counties and the schools for tax abatements."

Residents who live near wind farms feel they are noisy, an eyesore, and diminish the value of their properties.

The Bellevue ISD School Board is considering entering into a Texas Tax Code 313 agreement which includes a taxpayer installing property like a wind farm to get a 10-year limitation on that taxable property.

An agreement could help Bellevue ISD financially. The Superintendent of the district, Dean Gilstrap said, "We used to get about anywhere from $600,000 to $800,000 a year from the state. They built a brick plant, now we get the brick plant taxes this year. We only get $90,000 from the state and I got to send them $250,000."

By entering a tax agreement, the value of the project can be excluded for truth-in-taxation purposes, unlike with the district's current situation regarding the brick plant.

"The company is required to hold them harmless for any revenue loss due to the wind turbines from coming on. In addition to that they can negotiate up to $50,000 dollars per year in additional benefits for a course of anywhere between 14 and 16 years."

The board has not taken any sides on wind farms just yet. They want to know what is best for the district.

Superintendent Gilstrap said, "If there is the slightest chance that a wind farm could come into Bellevue ISD then what we want to know is, is it in the best interest of Bellevue ISD to have a 313 agreement in place?"

Whether a wind farm project does come to Bellevue it would be up to the residents.

It would also take up to 150 days for the board to approve an agreement if a company were to submit an application. The Bellevue ISD Superintendent says that action is yet to take place.

Copyright 2018 RNN Texoma. All Rights Reserved.