The Madison County Council recently voted to transfer $400,000 from the wind farm economic development account to pay county bills, to the chagrin of at least one county commissioner whose position we share.
When the Wild Cat wind farm was approved north of Elwood, the company provided $1.3 million to the county for economic development. The commissioners at the time set aside this money for use in the northern part of Madison County.
While we share Commissioner John Richwine’s sentiment that the money should be replenished and used for economic development, we agree with Commissioner Kelly Gaskill that a plan should’ve been in place a long time ago.
The funds have been set aside since 2011, giving the commissioners nearly a decade to formulate a much needed economic development plan for northern Madison County. As Richwine suggests, money should be pulled from the county’s reserve fund and placed in the wind farm fund to replenish what was recently transferred.
The commissioners should then develop a spending plan as quickly as possible to put that money to use for its intended purpose.
We entrust our county leaders to responsibly manage the county’s funds, and we question the fiscal responsibility of dipping into previously earmarked funds.
While routine bills must be paid, using money from the wind farm fund is a short-term solution. When that money is depleted, it is simply gone. By investing the money in economic development, the county could see a return in the form of tax revenue that could help keep the bills paid in the long run.