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School gambles and blows away taxpayer money

Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

For 5 months, a group of concerned taxpayers has been in communication with Bureau Valley School in an effort to understand claims that the wind turbine is profitable.

Those claims have been made in public testimony by the president of the Bureau Valley School Board, himself an employee of a wind turbine company. After attempts to obtain information from Bureau Valley were unsuccessful, a Freedom of Information Act request was filed. From numbers acquired from this FOIA request, it was determined that there is an accumulated 5-year loss of more than $130,000.

At the end of 10 years, when the last of the turbine’s loan payments are scheduled to be made, the district can be projected to have a deficit of more than $260,000 if the expenses or repairs don’t increase. In the most recent year alone, the annual insurance and maintenance expenses have risen by more than $2,000.

We brought this information to the attention of the Bureau Valley board and requested that its members respond, which they agreed to do. We are still waiting for that response. It doesn’t appear that it will break even anytime soon. Another expense to taxpayers will be decommissioning – possibly $500,000.

There was a $20,000 study to prove the feasibility of this turbine project. Apparently, the study was wrong. We asked for the study but did not receive it. The turbine cost $1,056,687.52. The turbine is not showing a profit even though $484,178 was paid by grant money (taxpayer money).

The school used $122,509.52 of school money the first year and borrowed $450,000 plus interest to build the turbine. This money for a turbine could have been used for teachers or programs for students.

Perhaps a school board should stick to education and not gamble with the taxpayer's money with a wind turbine business.

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