Counties talk taxes with Birch Solar

SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Commissioners in Augalize and Allen County on Tuesday met with representatives from Lightsource bp to discuss the company’s pending request for preferential tax treatment, a special tax designation similar to a tax abatement for renewable energy projects like the proposed Birch Solar Farm.

The underlying question facing the county commissioners: How much tax revenue could Shawnee and Wapakoneta schools gain or lose if the company is allowed to make a set payment in lieu of taxes? And how could this decision affect the districts’ state aid?

Consultants for Lightsource bp on Tuesday outlined what they presented as the benefits of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT), including a requirement for companies making such payments to hire 80% of their construction workforce from Ohio.

And the representatives described a sense of certainty for school districts under the PILOT option in a world of constantly evolving school funding formulas, offering an alternative source of revenue without having to issue new levies or increase the student population.

The Augalize and Allen County commissioners hosted a meeting last month to consider hiring a consultant to calculate the impact financial impact of accepting or rejecting a potential PILOT offer from Lightsource bp.

The company formally submitted its application for the 1,410-acre solar project to the Ohio Power Siting Board in February, the first step toward getting the project approved.

By Mackenzi Klemann

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