Lebanon Reporter

Commentary

April 3, 2010

A breezy suggestion for WeBo’s revenue problems

Back in March 2009, the Western Boone school board decided it would not participate in industrial wind farms.

They may want to rethink that decision.

A wind turbine at Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island earned $281,219 for the community last year, the Providence Journal reported.

That amount is nearly a third of the $853,856 shortage Western Boone County Community Schools are facing this year.

It’s also more than 25 percent of what the Western Boone School Board opens to raise per year from a new property tax levy, which would add 19 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. WeBo Superintendent Dr. Judi Hendrix said the school board hopes to raise $1 million a year from the additional revenue.

Nearly two-thirds of persons voting in a recent Lebanon Reporter Web poll said they opposed the referendum.

Web polls are, obviously, unscientific. But when 63.63 percent of the responses are polite variations of “are you insane?,” other options should be examined.

One of those options is reversing its decision and inviting Enxco a wind farm developer, back for another chat.

Last March, Enxco’s Nick Watson told the school board that Western Boone Jr.-Sr. High School is smack in the middle of an area being considered for a 200-megawatt wind farm. The school district owns 97 acres on which turbines might be built, Watson said.

Wind turbines are a touchy subject here: Some land owners want them, others are vehemently opposed. Economics and aesthetics are the core issues for either side.

Those who disdain the turbines say they are unattractive and will lower their property values.

Those who want turbines are attracted to the $7,000 per turbine per year, with a 2.5 percent annual increase, Enxco would pay over a 30-year lease. That price could go higher, of course. But the annual lease payments aren’t where the real money could be.

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