Logan County Board to vote on Top
Hat Decommissioning Plan and vehicles for Sheriff's Department
Send a link to a friend
[June 21, 2022]
At the Logan Board’s June
Workshop, several action items were put on the agenda for Tuesday’s
Among the items were two
topics of discussion.
One was the Invenergy/Top
Hat Wind Farm Project Decommissioning Plan.
During the public comment
period, Logan County Zoning Officer George Mencken said he had a
decommissioning agreement from Top Hat in his hands. Though he is
the Zoning Officer, they did not send it to him. Logan County
Highway Engineer Bret Aukamp had received a copy at 4:22 that day.
In a recent meeting, Mencken
talked about the state required agricultural agreements which
require a 10 percent bond for the first five years. After five
years, the bond is to be 50 percent and after eleven years, there
should be 100 percent bond to the county.
The agreement Mencken had
with him did not have 10, 50 or 100 percent bonds. It is only the
second copy he has seen. Mencken said if he sounded irritated, it is
because he was. In previous jobs, he has dealt with contractors like
this for decades. When they pull “games” like that, Mencken said
they disrespect everyone on the board.
Additionally, Mencken said
they had taken out the Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement.
Both Mencken and Planning
and Zoning Committee Chairman had met with a Top Hat
One thing Mencken was upset
about is that the representative did not mention any changes when he
met with him earlier that day.
The county would give up the
rights under the agricultural agreement if it were approved. Mencken
spent many hours of research to find the agricultural agreements
Because it did not have
these areas, Mencken does not recommend the board pass it. He does
feel the county should not do business with a company that treats
them this way.
Later in the meeting,
Planning and Zoning Chairman David Hepler said he planned to bring
forward a motion to approve the Decommissioning Plan for the Top Hat
At that point, Mencken
stormed out of the room.
Board Vice Chairman Scott
Schaffenacker asked if it was the committee’s intent to bring
forward to the full board so they can table it. It would then be
tabled until after the public hearing with the Zoning Board of
Appeals [for the Invenergy/Top Hat Wind Farm permit].
That was not the intent
Hepler had. Hepler said the Invenergy representative had put
together some revisions he recommended. These were forwarded to
Westwood Engineering who prepared the Decommissioning Plan.
The Invenergy representative
had asked that changes from last month be forwarded to Logan County
Highway Engineer Bret Aukamp as well as Serena Paige, the county’s
consultant for the plan. Hepler said his hope is that Invenergy and
Westwood continue to dialogue and work with the County Engineer
By Tuesday, Hepler hopes
there is a consensus document in place. If the County Engineer is
not satisfied with the document, Hepler said it could be tabled
until next month.
Since Top Hat Wind Farm
Project has not gone through the permitting process yet,
Schaffenacker asked Hepler whether approving the decommissioning
plan would be out of order.
Approving this plan before
the the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals holds a public hearing on
the project is something Schaffenacker feels might be a conflict of
interest to the county’s citizens. Schaffenacker thinks the
applicants might use that to their advantage in responding to
questions from the public. He asked what benefit there would be in
approving the plan now.
To Hepler, having a
decommissioning plan in place that satisfies both the consultant the
county hired and the county engineer, would show one important part
of the “puzzle” the county is satisfied with.
The rest of the Invenergy/Top
Hat permit has not been brought forward to the ZBA. Schaffenacker
said it is not standard or customary to vote on a decommissioning
plan before a ZBA public hearing. It has not been done with any of
the other projects.
Before looking at homes, Hepler said people have a
prequalification. There is a timetable for the project and Invenergy/Top
Hat representatives have been talking to Aukamp for months. The
board has also been addressing the decommissioning plan and hired a
consultant. Hepler feels this plan is a prequalification since a
consultant has been approved.
The decommissioning plan
could be tabled or amended if Aukamp is not satisfied with it. If
Aukamp is satisfied with the plan, Hepler feels the board should act
The consultant was hired to
help the county look over the decommissioning plan. Board Chairman
Emily Davenport asked Aukamp his thoughts about the plan.
A couple of weeks ago,
Aukamp received the plan. Aukamp said he read it and found some
errors. He compiled a list of his comments and sent them to
Invenergy/Top Hat. Since then, Aukamp said Invenergy/Top Hat has
addressed his comments.
When Aukamp got the revised
plan Thursday afternoon [before board workshop], he looked through
it and found several changes. That is Aukamp’s concern, though he
feels these changes may not be related to engineering but may be
more administrative or legal.
What Aukamp encouraged the
board to do is to look through the plan very closely. He said it
would be good to compare what was presented on the first draft of
the plan to what is in the plan now since changes have been made.
As far as timing goes, Aukamp has not had conversations with
Invenergy/Top Hat representatives about when they might be doing the
rest of the permitting. He said they are hoping it may be sometime
There are some open-ended
questions and Aukamp said the representatives for the project are
still working on those issues. Aukamp feels it is possible the
decommissioning plan might dovetail in with Invenergy/Top Hat trying
to partner with someone taking this through to the construction
[to top of second column]
The decommissioning plan
will be brought forward Tuesday for approval.
Vehicles for Sheriff’s
Another topic of discussion
was seven vehicles Logan County Sheriff Mark Landers is asking to be
able to purchase before the end of the budget year using capitol
In rotating the vehicles,
Board Vice Chairman Scott Schaffenacker said he thought they
followed a stringent schedule.
These are vehicles Landers
said should have been purchased last year, but they held off due to
last year’s budget. Now they are running into mileage and
maintenance issues with the old vehicles.
The vehicles would have been
brought forward for the new budget year. However, when Landers
started researching vehicle purchase, he found out several things.
First, government incentives
are going away. Landers said right now every government vehicle
purchased gets a rebate between $7,500 and $9,500. Right away,
purchase costs for each vehicle would increase between $7,000 and
The Ford and Dodge dealers
[in the county] do not yet have current numbers, but Landers said
their finance people to expect a $2,000 to $3,000 increase per
If waiting five months to
purchase these vehicles, Landers said they could expect to pay
between $8,000 and $11,000 more for the vehicles.
After speaking to both
dealerships and to Morrow, the dealership that has the state bid for
vehicles, Landers found Morrow has 2022 vehicles in stock. That is
because Morrow is the state bid dealership.
Initially, Landers had
considered getting hybrid vehicles, but many people want them right
now and their costs have increased.
If the county purchases the
vehicles now instead of in December, the county will save between
$7,000 and $10,000 dollars per vehicle.
As Landers considered
vehicle purchases, he reached out to lenders about interest rates.
The best interest rates Landers was given were around 4.25 percent
on a $270,000 loan. Landers said paying for the vehicles outright
would eliminate those interest rates over the next few years.
There are three detective
Sports Utility Vehicles and Board Chairman Emily Davenport asked if
the sheriff’s department would keep those.
Those are vehicles are ones
Landers said they would keep. He would take the 2015 vehicles out of
service and get two new Explorers.
There was one cost of
$203,600 in total for some of the vehicles and Davenport asked if
that was their costs out the door. She also asked about total costs
for all the vehicles. She thought Landers had mentioned $240,000 at
the board’s finance meeting.
That number was something
Landers said was based on getting hybrids. However, there are few
available. Dealers stopped selling Expeditions to law enforcement
because inventory is low, and they can sell those vehicles for more
If going with bare bones
options, Landers brings each vehicle to around $40,000.
This motion was not on the
board’s Safety Committee agenda for the month, and Schaffenacker
noted that. He also said they did not have a chance to get it on the
agenda for the Finance Committee.
There were not yet completed
numbers at the time the Finance Committee met. Finance Committee
Chair Steven Jenness said they just had tentative numbers then. That
is why the motion is coming off the floor.
The question board member
Jim Wessbecher had was whether these vehicles Landers hopes to
purchase were in stock.
These vehicles are currently
in stock. Landers said seven white Ford police trucks and one of the
black Explorers are available.
While Landers knows the
budget talks will be in August, Landers said the savings from buying
them now is substantial.
brought the motion forward because those trucks may not be available
next week. Vehicles likes Explorers are moving off the lot quickly.
For the purchase of the
vehicles, Davenport said Landers had agreed the board could use the
ARPA funds set aside for jail improvements. In the next few years,
Davenport hopes they could repay that fund, but there is no
guarantee that will be possible.
Tuesday, Jenness will be bringing forward a motion
to approve Sheriff to purchase five trucks and two explorers in the
amount of $277,310 from the Safety Complex Improvements Fund.
The action items from the Planning and Zoning
Committee and Finance Committee as well as several others will be
voted on at tonight’s Regular Board meeting, Tuesday, June 21.
[© 2022 Thomson Reuters. All rights
reserved.] This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.