Regional Superintendent of Schools Kelton Davis has endorsed innovative economic development projects like the controversial wind farm that local developer Joe Koppeis has proposed south of Valmeyer.
In a letter addressed to Monroe County residents, Davis said he supports these types of projects because of the tax revenue they generate for local school districts.
“Alternative energy sources can generate more tax revenue for the schools than many single family homes without increasing per student costs for the schools,” Davis wrote. “With the continued influx of people wanting to raise families here, the cost of education increases without equivalent tax growth.
“Business and industry is critical if we want to sustain the level of services we all enjoy. The state of Illinois has continued to shift fiscal burdens locally and we must define our own future rather than hoping that government will solve our issues for us.”
According to Koppeis, each wind tower on his proposed wind 50-turbine farm would generate $40,000 annually in real estate taxes, with most of that revenue going to the two school districts.
Koppeis said that at the Monroe County Board meeting he attended on Aug. 20 to discuss his proposal. Approximately 100 residents also came to the meeting to voice their views on the matter, many of whom expressed concerns or criticisms of the plan.
In his letter, Davis asked residents to remain objective about such a volatile issue.
“I ask for your objective consideration of this and other alternative energy projects that will be beneficial for the school districts in the county,” he wrote.
Davis went on to further explain why he supports the development.
“Having worked with Admiral Parkway (Koppeis’s company) on several education projects, I am completely confident that the implementation and desired outcomes of the proposed wind farm is to provide opportunity for our county that benefits us all,” Davis wrote. “To that end, I believe we must support innovative practices that are responsive to our need of commercial growth while respecting our county’s rich history and traditions. I am thankful to live here and appreciative of the collective interest in continuing to make this a tremendous place to work and raise a family.”
Davis later clarified his comments made in the letter. He said he merely meant to endorse the concept of innovative development, not necessarily this project.
“I have no delusions of grandeur related to my role with economic development,” he said. “My role is to support our schools and when asked what impact these (wind turbines) would have on our schools, it’s a financial one.”
Davis said when considering projects like the wind farm, he balances what would be good for the schools and what the community wants and needs.