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home : top stories : top stories August 1, 2014


1/8/2014 12:16:00 PM
Frac Sand firms get $1.5 million tax bill
Sam Finazzo

The rapid growth in frac sand mining activity in Barron County has begun to be reflected by a jump in the amount of property taxes being paid by frac sand mining and processing facilities here.
Local frac sand interests will pay about $1.5 million in state and local property taxes, according to search of tax records filed with the Barron County Treasurer's Office.
Superior Silica Sands, which owns a processing plant and mines south of Chetek in the Town of Dovre and another processing facility west of Barron in the Town of Clinton, will pay the most, with a 2013 tax bill of more than $595,000.
Since the development of those properties by Superior Silica, their assessed values have grown from less than $50,000 to nearly $32 million. The total taxes assessed had been less than $3,000.
Great Northern Sand and it's affiliate, MEV Land Trust, will pay about $375,000 in property taxes for mine sites and a processing facility in the Town of Dovre.
The property on which the main plant is located had an assessed value of $92,000 and generated only $1,835 in property taxes before development. It's now assessed at $18.3 million and is taxed for over $340,000.
Chieftain Sand and Proppant, another Town of Dovre processor and mine owner, received tax bills totaling about $315,000 on about $17 million in new manufacturing property.
Some of the mining properties have yet to become operational, so they continue to be assessed and taxed as agricultural, forest or vacant land. Once they are up and running, they are assessed by the state as manufacturing property and are subject to the local property tax levies by local municipalities and school districts.
Canadian Sand and Proppant, which only recently opened its operations on 200 acres in the Town of Sumner, got a tax bill for $60,829 on its holdings-a figure that is likely to go higher once the site is fully developed.
Midwest Frac's mine in the Town of Arland was taxed $27,521, while the nearby EOG mine received a tax bill of almost $62,000 on property assessed at almost $3.5 million. Prior to the development of the EOG mine, the property was valued at about $20,000 and was taxed at less than $400.
Also in the Town of Arland, property assessments and tax collections are rising on land leased by mining operations. For example, one 38-acre parcel owned by Kenneth Larson and mined by Superior Silica had been assessed at $4,300 and generated just $78 last year as agricultural land. The site is now regarded as manufacturing property with an assessed value of $316,000 and a tax bill of $5,671.
The jump in property taxes paid by frac sand companies will have its biggest impact in the Town of Dovre. Tax bills for frac sand properties in that township alone are up by more than $900,000, taking some of the tax burden of supporting schools and local government off the shoulders of other property taxpayers in the township.
Manufacturing property values in Dovre went from none in 2011 to $37.2 million last year. Largely because of frac sand activity, the assessed value of the township as a whole nearly doubled in 2 years.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Ann Schoonover

Excellent point Sara....money for our communitites is one thing but the safety of our air, land, water and roadways are a HUGE concern to many of us. Also, the 4 deaths by railroad in the past month is disheartening :( Also the fact that Midwest Frac Sand Company is trying to sue Barron County to get out of it's responsibilities to repair road damage caused by the trucks carrying thousands of tons of sand on our roads - one of the reasons they were allowed to have a permit to mine was they had to fix the roads.

Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2014
Article comment by: Sara Baer

Thanks for your good coverage of the wealth the frac mines are seeming to bring to our communities. Prosperity always has costs. I think those of us who are continuing to try to raise awareness about possible health and environmental impacts of the frac mines are trying to make sure that best practices are being followed and that short-sighted immediate tax benefit doesn't leave long-term health and environmental damage to our valuable water and our future generations health. I hope we can find sensible balance and solutions to existing and potential problems.

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