MARQUETTE - The Marquette County Board voted support Tuesday for Humboldt Township's efforts to maintain ad valorem property tax for Kennecott's Humboldt Mill, rather than any new forms of severance tax contemplated by state officials and lawmakers.
The county's unanimous board vote occurred Tuesday during a committee of the whole session and a final vote on whether to support a resolution passed Monday by the Humboldt Township Board is expected next week.
Since December, the county board, township and school officials have been engaged in a dialogue with state officials and lawmakers about a proposed new severance tax for nonferrous mining projects, including Kennecott's Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains.
The Humboldt Mill in Humboldt Township is pictured in an aerial photo. (Kennecott file photo)
Final details of the various severance tax proposals - which suggest replacing the current ad valorem property tax structure with the next tax - have not been worked out and no bills have been introduced in Lansing.
Those contemplating development of the severance tax, including State Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, have pledged to keep the same amount of tax revenue in place for local interests as is now available under the ad valorem tax.
However, officials have not been able to agree on what tax percentages are necessary to keep the locals whole and held harmless. There is also debate about the reliability of the state's valuation of Kennecott's Eagle Mine at $191 million.
Other provisions of some of the severance tax proposals would designate some of the tax revenue collected for a regional economic development fund.
Humboldt Township officials want Kennecott's milling operation, which is located in Humboldt Township roughly 25 miles from the mine, to remain under the ad valorem tax structure as it has in the past, and for future potential uses of the site beyond milling ore for Kennecott.
"The Humboldt Township Board believes there is no other feasible and stable alternative for the economic stability of Humboldt Township," the township board resolution stated. "The Humboldt Township Board fully supports the ad valorem tax and will continued (sic) to be levied on the Humboldt mill facility for the future economic stability and growth of Humboldt Township."
County Commissioner Bill Nordeen said Kennecott officials think that if the mine site is taxed under the severance tax, and the mill under the ad valorem structure, the mining company is being taxed twice for the same mining operation.
Nordeen said he thinks the two different taxes could be worked in concert to not be considered a "double tax" for Kennecott.
Board Chairwoman Deborah Pellow said the county board had supported previous efforts by Humboldt Township to maintain its ad valorem tax.
Commissioner Steve Pence was absent from the meeting.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.