This week we also passed another bill of mine out of the Education Committee, House Study Bill 521. Currently in Iowa, as we see more and more wind energy, we are also seeing more and more Tax Increment Financing involving these wind projects. TIFF allows a county or city to capture all of the property taxes from a certain area, which are then supposed to be used for development and infrastructure within that area. Money that would have flowed to the school for their share of the state cost per pupil is instead rerouted to counties and cities, and the state is required to backfill the schools. This backfill has grown to over $70 million in recent years.
These TIFF districts were originally intended to help cities and counties offset the cost of infrastructure for development or redevelopment areas. These areas are called Urban Revitalization Zones. What we have seen with these wind turbine areas is the money is being taken from schools and other taxing entities not for “urban revitalization,” but instead to be used by counties for other projects in other parts of the counties, and the Iowa taxpayers as a whole are paying for it.
My bill simply says that if a city or county wants to create an Urban Revitalization Zone which includes wind turbines they can, but the schools are going to keep their money and therefore the State will not have to backfill these districts. It’s a huge win for Iowa taxpayers and will help keep the state budget in check.