Klickitat County Auditor Darlene Johnson was the featured speaker at the Goldendale community lunch forum yesterday. A large audience had many questions about a decision by the state of Washington to change the way wind turbines are assessed from a flat rate to a 20-year depreciation schedule. For local taxing districts, that means revenue will go down each year. Countywide, she said, wind turbine taxes makes up about a third of the county’s revenue, which will now drop about 5 percent each year. But, she said, a portion of those values would reset when the company had to eventually replace the gearbox mechanism.
The national standard is that 70 percent of the cost of putting up a wind turbine is the actual gearbox expense, and so in our county, it’s actually 82 or 83 percent, so if they continue to replace those gearboxes, that is the biggest portion that gets added back on at the top of the depreciation schedule,
Johnson also responded to some who had concerns about rising assessments on their property. She noted that her mandate under state law is to capture revenue based on 100 percent of true market value, and the state checks up on assessors with random audits:
Those audits are important to you guys, because if it turns out I’m assessing below what they think I should be assessing, what they do is they increase our portion of thestate school levy, and so our taxes will go up.
Below is a short video of Johnson answering a question about the windmills