County, schools settle wind farm impact fee

Sweet Grass County Commissioners, the City-County Planning board and local school administrators met March 2 and drafted an agreement describing how the allocation of the Big Timber Wind LLC impact fee would transpire.

Commissioners and administrators agreed that Big Timber Grade School and Sweet Grass County High School would each receive 5 percent of the impact fee for Big Timber Wind to be distributed in $7,750 annual payments for three years.

Over that three-year time period, BTGS and SGHS would receive roughly $23,000 each.

Reed Point Elementary School would possibly be elligible for 1-2 percent of the impact fee, but their involvement depends on the final plans of the wind farm.

An impact fee is a fee that is imposed by the county on a new development project to pay for all or a portion of the costs of providing public services to the new project.

According to the draft impact fee agreement, the $31 million wind farm project would give the county three annual fee payments of 1.5 percent of the project costs, $465,000, spanned over three years, which would amount to approximately $155,000 annually.

Originally, plans for the distribution of the fees were modeled from inter-local impact fee agreements in Wheatland County.

In Wheatland’s agreements, the impact fee payments were set aside in an account operated by a board.

However, planning director Page Dringman pointed out that this is the first wind farm in Sweet Grass County to have made it this far in the process. She added that payments wouldn’t be much, and the schools could possibly receive their money “right off the bat,” instead of the inter-local agreement.

To read the full story, pick up the March 23 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.


By Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer