County, mine settle on $4 million in back taxes case

KINGMAN - Mohave County will receive about $4 million in a settlement in the Mineral Park mine bankruptcy case, roughly 25 percent of the original amount.

The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in a special meeting Thursday to accept a total settlement of nearly $4.5 million, less a surcharge of $445,323, with the money to be allocated between various taxing districts within Mohave County.

Supervisor Jean Bishop said the board is working with legal counsel to determine the county's options in regard to the settlement.

Mineral Park copper mine in Chloride filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2014, and laid off 380 workers in December as the mine began the process of shutting down.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey in Delaware approved the sale of Mineral Park mine in January for $10 million to Origin Mining Company, a company affiliated with Nevada mining operations.

Origin Mining Company owns Mineral Park mine "free and clear of all liens, claims and interests" on the property, according to court documents, and will be responsible for about $3.5 million in environmental obligations.

Mineral Park owed about $115 million in loans led by Societe Generale, hedging agreements with individual lenders and general unsecured debt.

Mohave County was owed more than $15 million in back taxes, of which 80 percent would go to secondary taxing districts such as Mohave Community College and fire districts with jurisdiction over the mine.

MCC was counting on about $1.5 million from those taxes to go toward construction of new buildings on the Neal campus in Kingman.

Mohave County argued that state law gives the property taxes priority over other financial claims against Mineral Park. But the mine contested the validity of the valuations the taxes were based on.

In other action from Thursday's special board meeting:

• Approved reducing the Television District tax rate by 5 cents, from 7 cents to 2 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Vote was 5-0.

• Approved reducing the Library District tax rate by 10 cents, from 32 cents to 22 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Vote was 5-0.

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