VERSHAL HOGAN

MANAGING EDITOR

 

The Ashley County Quorum Court voted Tuesday to approve a tax abatement agreement it first signaled it would support three years ago.

The abatement, for Today’s Power, is connected to the construction of a solar farm that covers approximately eight acres outside of Hamburg. It has been operational for approximately two years.

Attorney Michele Allgood attended the meeting as a representative of the company, telling the Quorum that it had first indicated that it would support a 65 percent tax abatement for the project in August 2018.

“This is a common thing around Arkansas; we see it with solar facilities and manufacturing,” Allgood said. “What I’m here for today is the formal thing we have to do for y’all to implement the things you agreed to do.”

As part of the agreement, the company will hand the title to the property over to the county, which will in turn lease it back to the company for the length of the abatement. While the county will technically own the property, it will not assume any of the company’s liabilities as part of the agreement, Allgood said.

While the majority of the taxes will be abated, Today’s Power “will pay a minimum of 35 percent of what would be (taxed), so your school district will get revenue during the abatement period,” she said.

County Assessor Beth Rush said the company has already filed an assessment with the public service commission for this year instead of with her office, so the abatement can’t be in place for the 2021 tax year.

“We can’t undo what has been done, but we can make it where it is correct going forward,” Allgood said. 

The law allows for such agreements between companies and municipalities to last for up to 30 years, but Today’s Power has only requested a 20 year agreement, she said.

Since the solar farm has been constructed and operational for the last two years without the agreement in place, Allgood said the county was still due full taxes for those two years.

The Quorum voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

During the meeting the Quorum also  voted to extend the lease of the county-owned hospital facility at Ashley County Medical Center to the Crossett Health Foundation.

The terms of the lease dictate that every year the Quorum has to review to see if the hospital is in default of its lease agreement, and if it is not then the court automatically renews the lease for a rolling 10-year period.

The Crossett Health Foundation’s lease of the facility is now good through Sept. 15, 2031.

In other news:

-The justices voted to grant a request for $3,600 for repairs and renovations to the county courtroom.

-The justices voted to adopt an ordinance correcting a computer-generated error in a previously adopted ordinance.

-The justices adopted an ordinance allowing the county library to receive funds designated by the American Rescue Act.

-The justices approved a resolution that placed approximately $21,000 in insurance settlement money from a wrecked county vehicle into the road department’s budget in order to buy a new vehicle.

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