Doesn't anyone want to make a honest buck anymore?
In light of the news that the Carnahan family wind farm business plans on using $90 million in stimulus and a quarter of billion in loans to build their new project, emails poured in from around the state complaining about the way the company does business.
To some extent, it's appropriate to keep the business of siblings out of the public eye, but when those siblings are sucking up taxpayer dollars, it's fair to take a look at just how they do business, especially if that business is going to fund legislative action voted on by other family members. Yes, that's confusing, but it's the Carnahans, so let's simplify it to say "nose, public trough, greedy as a pig."
Dekalb County is the second wind farm project in Missouri attempted by Wind Capital. The first was built in Rockport, and the second was slated for Dekalb.
Here is a report from that area, from almost two years ago, on just how Wind Capital picked the location.
At a meeting in Maysville, Wind Capital made a pitch to the county commissioners, a pitch that was unreported in the local papers. Rumor at the time was that Wind Capital agreed to pay the fair assessed property taxes only after the project has been up and running for five years. At the meeting, which included county officials and taxing districts, Wind Capital said they would not pay the full assessed property tax and threatened to take the entire project up to Atchison County if the taxing districts in DeKalb Co. did not agree to accept only 40% of the actual property tax. The County told Wind Capital they didn't have the authority to accept less than the legal assessment.
I've been sitting on this, waiting for some time to go up and check on the matter myself, but a second piece crossed my desk, and seems to go hand in hand with the first report.
Tonight our Dekalb county commissioners held a town hall style hearing/meeting on implementing an Enhanced Enterprise Zone. About 100 attended. 14 members of the community spoke up including myself and our state Rep Jim Guest.
Wind Capital, (Tom Carnahan’s company) is building 100 electric producing windmills in our county. 2 of their lawyers were there and the purpose of this project is to grant them a tax abatement for up to 10 years. that is to lower the property taxes at least 50% and possibly up to 100% on the windmills for a minimum of 5 years and up 10 years.
The crowd was mostly opposed to this. 12 of 14 speakers were opposed. Most speakers just asked a question or 2. One of the speakers was from a neighboring county. He is in one of the school districts affected by this. When he spoke the presiding commissioner was quite rude to him and pointed out that he did not live in our county.
“I am here to speak against the Enhanced Enterprise Zone. I am not opposed to windmills or new businesses in our county. I am opposed to the Enhanced Enterprise Zone. When government starts meddling in business, fairness goes out the window.
I’ll tell you what happens is the Wind Capital lawyers go around pitting county against county getting lower taxes and threatening to “Build Elsewhere” and the folks like our commissioners just cave in and give them whatever they want. It’s time to call their bluff they are building their windmills here because we have the best wind in Missouri.
The crowd gave me a very long and loud applause. Wow, it’s the first time I gave a talk like that in my backyard. Afterward, more than a dozen folks came up and shook my hand and thanked me. One man Thanked me for saying what he had wanted to say.
(Later the lawyer admitted that no matter the decision on tax abatement they would be building the 100 windmills and they had contracts signed, and had secured 250 or 300 million in financing.) The money secured by Carnahan's company came from MO Taxpayers when a law was passed that a certain percentage of electricity had to come from green companies of certain proportions and ironically only the Carnahan company fit the bill.
That's the statement of someone not to pleased with with Carnahan's, but here's the final scoop.
Wind Capital has been working the County Commissioners into thinking about establishing an Enhanced Enterprise Zone in an effort to mitigate at least a part of their (WC's) property tax liability. Currently, WC has 100 wind towers under construction in DeKalb Co. WC has announced plans to construct an additional 50 towers in 2010. Almost all of the WC towers are situated within the Union Star and the King City school districts. All three County Commissioners (CC) reside in Maysville school district. Under an EEZ all or part of the property tax liability can be reduced or set aside. The DeKalb County Commissioners like this idea, because they could then set a levy for all participating developers in the EEZ and tax revenues would not go to the local school districts in which the towers are located, but the funds would be diverted to the County and divied up by the commissioners. The DCC would be free to "share" this tax windfall with the Maysville school district at the expense of the Union Star and King City districts. WC has sweetened the deal by offering to provide an additional $15,000 per year to the DCC for administration of the EEZ. WC has local folks fighting amongst themselves for the tax bonanza!
Public/private partnerships can be good for the state, but when you combine the zealotry of green Progressives with the old fashioned greed of the family of politicians, a nasty brew is concocted.
Green companies bask in the publicity of "saving the world," but as the climate science behind global warming reveals itself as political, taxpayers have the right to stand up and demand that more of our money doesn't go to shovel tens of millions to the families of the politically connected.