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State Authorizes Property Assessment Clean Energy Act

Can PACE Work In Missouri?


By John Harris
The terms energy efficiency, clean energy, interests, from environmentalists who are concerned
renewable energy, green energy, energy security and about greenhouse gases and the health of the planet to
sustainability have been common themes of discussion bankers who consider the program to be a driver of jobs
and debate for a good while now. For whatever the and economic activity.
reason – cost, hassle, soccer practice – Americans have Great efforts by many organizations and
not collectively taken up an active passion for reducing individuals culminated in a celebration as Gov. Nixon
energy use. signed the bill into law on July 13. Now, however,
Some now believe the latest next big thing toward care must be taken as the next steps to enact PACE
that end could be “PACE” or Property Assessment programs in the state will be critical.
Clean Energy. The idea comes to us from a California The enthusiasm for the PACE concept and
initiative (naturally) which provided that private what it promises could inadvertently take Missouri
property owners are allowed access to energy efficiency communities down a wrong path. While every
and renewable energy project funding through the community, be it a county, city, town, or village, desires
issuance of municipal bonds. Of course municipal debt to provide such a popular and useful program to its
has traditionally been reserved for use in the pursuit citizens, care must be taken to consider what will make
of a public purpose. The birth and rapid growth of the program actually work. A sustainable energy
the PACE concept across the country stems from a efficiency and renewable energy program, available to
declaration that such projects are in the public interest property owners at any time and continuously, is the
and so, therefore, are deemed to be a public purpose. goal. To make that a reality, very few, if any, of our
Vice President Joseph Biden was instrumental Missouri communities can go it alone.
in pushing PACE. Encouraging the Department of A critical aspect for any endeavor is consistency
Energy to provide pilot project funding in 2008, his of availability for its patrons. If a property owner is
work in shepherding the PACE concept resulted in motivated to access a community PACE program just
an inclusion of a “public purpose” authorization. This to find project funding is available on a hit-and-miss
was accomplished through the Jobs Bill created by the basis, it is unlikely the program will be successful for
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. very long, much less sustainable.
Property Assessment Clean Energy is a voluntary This certainly will be the nature of individual
program that provides 100 percent of up-front costs community programs that don’t have sufficient scale
for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to provide continuous access to all property owners
for residential and business property. Participating as they are ready to avail themselves of the program,
property owners may have up to 20 years for which may be this year, next year or the next.
repayment through a special property tax assessment. Statistics show that no one community in Missouri,
This removes a number of barriers to property owners be it a county or city, can effectively provide a PACE
who may have an interest in upgrading their homes or program on its own.
business properties, but who wish to avoid debt, may There is, however, a remedy to this problem which
not be able to afford the up-front costs, or are uncertain is already available for Missouri communities. It lays
how long they will remain on the properties. in the existing cooperative relationships among one an-
Now property owners who wish to upgrade their other and with one or another of the state’s 19 Regional
property by making it energy-efficient will have access Planning Commissions. These professional organiza-
to capital. This money provides for up-front costs of tions represent the entire state of Missouri and are,
the improvements, and the repayment is made from according to their mission statement, “committed to
savings resulting from reduced energy use. Because enhancing the state’s regions.
the property improvement is repaid through a “Regional councils are engaged in a myriad of activ-
special property tax assessment, the repayment is an ities, including economic and community development,
obligation of the current property owner. This means housing initiatives, safety and security, transportation
the repayment stays with the property and not the planning, environmental issues and quality-of-life is-
individual who initiated the property improvement. sues.” The activities conducted by the regional councils
Enabling legislation for Missouri was passed as create jobs for Missourians, stimulate private invest-
the Property Assessment Clean Energy Act, HB1692 ment, and attract millions of dollars which support
(RSMo 67.2800-67.2835). It happened on the last public projects.
day of the session as a part of an omnibus bill. The
PACE provision was supported by a broad range of (Continued On Page 24)
www.mocounties.com 7
state has incurred. state sites, and perhaps Obama’s PACE Program
Missouri’s transparency portal stimulus transparency efforts, all
gets more than 33,000 hits a day. may be doomed to come up a little (Continued From Page 7)
What are those users looking for? bit short. In a vacuum, $15,000 in When communities pool their
Some are state employees looking taxpayer funds spent at a bra shop own energy efficiency and renew-
for information to help them do sounds downright scandalous. Only able energy projects together with
their jobs. when it is those of neighboring and even
Others are researched regional areas, then scalability is
contractors, and explained
checking possible. Scalability in this case
does it sound connotes a program that can pro-
up on their eminently
competition. vide efficient financing and readily
A MAP to your tax dollars
reasonable.
We come to the Missouri Accountabi ity Portal (MAP)
accessible funds to each commu-
And a few Numbers with
The MAP s te s presented to the c tizens of M ssouri as a sing e Check out the new MAP

are fiscal
point of reference to review how their money is being spent and
other pertinent informat on re ated to the enforcement of
Download s te which provides
the ab lity to download all of the
nity participant when and where
dollar signs
government programs As you browse the MAP site you w ll be
able to v ew information about state agency expend tures the
data in the MAP database
needed.
watchdogs, distr bution of economic development tax cred ts state
next to them
employee pay nformation and revenues and expenditures

looking to
re ated to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009
The framework provided by
have a way
The data on the MAP site s updated each business day New
the Regional Planning Commission
find what features are added as they become avai able Please v sit the
site requently for new informa ion
of inspiring network seems a perfect match for
they deem to F nd out what your tax money is doing with MAP it s easy! To
people to ask
begin cl ck one of the options above

the implementation of PACE. If the


be wasteful Sta e of Missouri | Of ice of Administration | Department of Econom c Development | Contact Information
questions.
Copyr ght © 2007 Office of Admin strat on
PACE program is to succeed in and
spending.
The Missouri Accountability Portal (mapyourtaxes.mo.gov) What large
When provides citizens with quick and easy access to state spending
for Missouri communities, scale of
numbers operation is required. It is fortu-
Missouri data and government program enforcement information.
standing nate that that is exactly what the
rolled out the
alone don’t do is provide answers. cooperative anatomy of our state’s
site, officials steeled themselves
for “gotcha” comments from the Regional Planning Commissions
public. But they also were willing This article was originally delivers.
to concede that as stewards of state published in the May 2009 edition
tax dollars, they had to be able to of Governing Magazine. It is John Harris is vice president of
accept blame in some cases. reprinted with permission from Country Club Bank’s Public Finance
The key to transparency GOVERNING, the publisher/ Division. He may be reached at 573-
working as it should is context And copyright holder of Governing 214-0919 or via e-mail – jharris@
that’s where Missouri’s site, other Magazine. countryclubbank.com.

Attention Missouri
County Clerks!
The November election
is upon us! Please send
your county’s results to the
MAC office as soon as possible.
We’ll be sending out a form for
you to simply write in the
winners’ names.

* E-Mail: info@mocounties.com
* Fax: 573-634-3549

Thank You!
The MAC Staff

The County Commissioners’


Association of Missouri
has a new Web address!

Visit them soon at:


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24 www.mocounties.com