Brown Co. Commissioners reject tax abatement for solar farm

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BROWNWOOD, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In a 3-2 vote, Brown County leaders failed to pass the first step needed to proceed with a tax break for IP Radian, LLC on a proposed solar farm near Brookesmith.

Commissioners voted against forming a “Reinvestment Zone”, which was needed to continue with the company’s Tax Abatement Application. Since the vote failed, all proceeding agenda items related to the application no longer required action.

Monday’s vote was highly anticipated by Brown County residents. Prior to the nays having it, a petition circulated around the county garnering thousands of signatures.

Some opposed to the abatement were present at the Commissioner’s special meeting and spoke directly to leaders, including Brownwood resident Johnny Hays, who sees the outcome as a win for the little guy.

“They want to raise our taxes by a third but they want to give these guys a tax break? I don’t think that’s gone over well with the population around here,” said Hays.

Also taking the podium was a tax professional with IP Radian who shared the impact the company would have on taxes in the county.

“This would generate $9.2 million in taxes to Brown County,” said the representative. “It would provide $16.2 million in taxes to Brookesmith ISD over the course of 35 years.”

The Superintendent of Brookesmith ISD, Steve Mickelson, also took the podium Monday, pushing for commissioners to approve the zone and accompanying application.

“Little districts like ours don’t get opportunities like this very often,” said Mickelson during his time in the public comment portion of the meeting.

Though the vote failed, Judge Paul Lilly says construction plans for the farm are likely to continue, but without a tax break.

“I believe that they’re probably going to go ahead and build at least some sort of solar facility out there,” said Judge Lilly. “And more power to them, I’d like to see that, just don’t ask the government to subsidize.”

A representative for IP Radian after the meeting said the company will now re-evaluate plans with investors to see what its next steps should be.

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