Cherry County Commissioners address tax dollars for wind energy

(KNOP)
Published: Apr. 24, 2018 at 7:25 PM CDT
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The Cherry County courtroom was packed as residents learned whether their tax dollars were used as the foundation to build a proposed 30-turbine wind facility in Cherry County.

Carolyn Semin of Kilgore spearheaded Tuesday's Cherry County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Semin says she set out to find the answer after questions from landowners about the project went unanswered, including hers.

She spent about seven hours doing research of her own and discovered $13,188 was used from the inheritance tax fund to pay for private development.

"We elected them to do the job and we believed that they would and we believed that they would protect our county, and so that is not a good excuse," Semin said. "The commissioners did their thing, they lobbied, whether they like that word or not, they lobbied for the line to come through Cherry County, which resulted in the R-Line Project and that was all done behind doors. I have the document where it says this was to be kept secret until a certain point in time."

Commissioner Tanya Storer made a motion to request to reimburse the funds and any additional funds used for private development.

However, Commissioners Martin DeNaeyer and Jim Van Winkle voted to table the motion until their next meeting on May 15th.

"Not only did we not think we were going to be able to stop wind development, but we made a decision early on with the R-Line and after conversations with Nebraska Public Power District that the R-Line Project was going to be built," said Commissioner Jim Van Winkle.

Commissioner Van Winkle also said the funds were not used illegally. In fact, he says inheritance tax funds have been used for community economic development and even purchasing ambulances.