Thursday, April 25, 2024

Commissioner Samuelson gives update on Wolf Hollow tax abatement

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During the Hood County Commissioners Court Tuesday, Precinct 2 Commissioner Nannette Samuelson provided an update about why the public hearing for the Wolf Hollow II Power Plant tax abatement agreement was canceled.

A public hearing was originally scheduled for March 26, to approve an amendment to the tax abatement agreement between Hood County and Wolf Hollow II Power Plant, LLC signed March 9, 2015. The project was to invest no less than $500 million to construct a combined cycle power plant with the capacity of at least 1,077 megawatts. The purpose of the amendment was to remove approximately 38 acres leased to Compute North in 2021 from property eligible for the abatement; the amendment was scheduled to be effective for the 2024 tax year.

A tax abatement is a local agreement between a taxpayer and a local taxing unit that exempts all or part of the increase in the value of property from taxation for a period not to exceed 10 years, according to comptroller.texas.gov.

However, Samuelson said she later canceled the public hearing, as she investigated the abatement agreement and realized that the eligible property already excluded land.

“It wasn’t just the land that the cryptocurrency plant is on, but all the land that is owned by Wolf Hollow II Power Plant, so I requested confirmation from the appraisal district March 15, and received confirmation March 18, which has resulted in the public hearing being canceled,” she said. “As I walked through the process with the appraisal district and the county attorney's office prior to putting the notice out, it wasn't until the 15th that it was discovered that this language excluded land.”

Samuelson added she  spent many hours on the phone with Chief Appraiser Jeff Law and he told her it’s not unusual for abatement agreements not to include land.

"It makes sense to me now that the land is already there, so what you're abating when a company comes in to build something, you're really abating the improvements, not the land itself, so that made total sense,” she said. “I just wish we would have had that discussion in February when I first discussed it with him. But in the abatement agreement, it defines eligible property as value of building structures, fixed machinery and equipment, and site improvements necessary to the operation and administration of the plant, not inventory, supplies, land or housing, so I just wanted to explain why it was canceled.”

Hood County Judge Ron Massingill explained he also looked into how much tax was paid by the data center in 2023.

Massingill said with taxes paid to the Hood County general fund, the Hood County Library fund, Hood County Lateral Road fund and Granbury ISD, Generate Capital paid $1,216,635 and Marathon Digital paid $635,380.

“All in all, the GC data and Marathon Holdings paid . . . $1,842,000 in taxes (in 2023) so pretty substantial,” he said.