February 26, 2014

Commission denies tax-exemption request

The Mercer County Commission decided last week to not grant a tax exemption to Marquis LLC, the company working with a process to help coal burn cleaner at Antelope Valley Station.
Sam Larson, representing Marquis LLC, and Donald Boehm of Basin Electric Power Cooperative were on hand to discuss the topic with the commissioners.
Larson began the conversation by stating Marquis had waived any prior tax exemption of the coal beneficiation from the start of their operation at Antelope Valley Station to the present. Taxes for that period would still be paid, amounting to approximately $67,000.
The company was still looking for the 15 percent tax exemption moving forward. State law currently allows for an 85/15 percent tax exemption for the first five years of coal beneficiation process by a company. The 85 percent is granted automatically by the state, but the 15 percent has to be approved by the county.
Commission Chairman Gary Murray said that he was inintially against taking the 15 percent.
“Mercer County derives a lot of revenue, employees and a lot of things directly from the coal industry,” Murray said. “Without the coal industry it would be quite a difference in our way of life. The coal industry is getting a lot of pressure to have clean coal from this administration, and what you’re doing helps that. I feel we should support that. We didn’t get this tax before the process went into place so it’s not like we’d lose something we had before.”
State’s Attorney Jessica Binder asked for clarification from Larson on how much tax revenue the county would receive from this process per month. Larson said he believed the average would be around $13,400 per month.
Commissioner Bill Tveit said that he was for the tax, given that Mercer County absorbed the brunt of effects to infrastructure because of the coal industry.
“In essence what I’m saying is I’m not in favor of waiving the tax,” Tveit said. “I think in not giving 85 percent to the state your company is already seeing substantial savings.”
Commissioner Duane Scheurer then voiced his opposition to waiving the tax.

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