Solar Panel Tax Angers Milton Residents - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Solar Panel Tax Angers Milton Residents

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MILTON, De. - It seems as if every where you look, there is another push towards going green, and one of the main ways to do so is by installing solar panels. But in Milton, some neighbors are angry after seeing a property tax increase of about 10 percent for doing so. In most Delmarva towns, property taxes are unaffected by these installations, but in Milton they are due to a property tax clause in the charter.

Town Solicitor Seth Thompson explains the discrepancy.

"Milton's council supports clean energy," he said. "However, currently the town must apply the legal framework contained in it's town charter."

Thompson is referring to section 25 of the charter that dictates that the town must assess the "land and the improvements located thereon." It is the reference to improvements that make installations increase the property value, and thus the taxes.

But at the Wagamon's West Shore many neighbors are frustrated. One of those residents is Gene Steele, who has a long platform of solar panels on top of his home. He said he bought the panels in order to save money on energy costs, and is frustrated that he is being charged the extra 10 percent in taxes.

"It's disappointing because we figured there were these savings we would have," he said. "But part of the savings have evaporated due to the town's decision to tax us on it."

Steele walks WBOC through his neighborhood where he said there are at least eight other homes with Solar panels on the roofs. One of those homes belong to Nina Martin, who is upset about the tax as well. 

"I'm floored at the town," she said. "It's a backwards motion while everybody is moving forward. They're trying to be energy conscious and green. And yet this is the only jurisdiction increasing the people's real estate taxes because they've done this."

Many of these neighbors in this area do not actually own the panels, which adds another level of complexity. The energy company technically owns them but rents them out to people in a mutually beneficial deal. The company receives the subsidies and the tax relief for building the structures. Meanwhile, the people get to enjoy lower energy rates.

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