Supervisors talk budget, wind farm revenue

Robert Maharry

Supporters of a large wind farm outside of Wellsburg—including, perhaps most notably, current Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Ross—billed the project as a budget panacea, a literal windfall for Grundy County that would finance a wide array of infrastructure upgrades. Already, however, at least two fellow supervisors who originally favored the proposal may be feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse.
“I was hoping we could use the wind turbine money for roads and specific things… It looks like it’s just going to get lost in the overall picture, and we’re not going to get any more roads and bridges done,” Chuck Bakker, who represents the Dike area, said at Monday morning’s regular meeting. “I think the money is getting lost too easily. It’s not going the way I had hoped it would.”
The discussion arose amidst uncertainty over how much revenue the county would receive from the wind farm during the upcoming fiscal year, as original projections pegged the number at just under $500,000 in taxes. Supervisor Mark Schildroth echoed some of Bakker’s concerns and recalled a conversation he had with a former Ida County supervisor, who advised him to devise a specific plan for spending the money.
Ross, along with Wellsburg area supervisor Harlyn Riekena, countered that the revenues allow the county to keep its levy rate steady and provide raises to longtime employees. 
“I look at it as kind of our last savior to maintain the tax rate the way it has been. Without it, what would we do?” Ross asked. “My main goal was to put a ceiling on the property tax levy, and that’s what we’re doing today.”
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