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Presidio County Reduces Mining Tax Bill by $4 million

The Presidio Appraisal District Office, where today's meeting took place.

Today (Tuesday July 31) members of the Appraisal Review Board of the Presidio County Appraisal District considered the appeal of the Rio Grande Mining Company, which is owned by the Aurcana Corporation. The company owns silver mining operations in and around Shafter, Texas. The protest hearing, which was held at the appraisal office in Marfa, went on for several hours.

The total tax value presented to the mining company was close to $50 million. Defending the assessment were Clay Fowler and Charles Price of Capital Appraisal Group. Ron Little and Steve Moore of the Rio Grande Mining Company spoke in protest of the tax bill.

Following the meeting, KRTS News talked to Irma Salgado, the Chief Appraiser for Presidio County. She said that "both sides presented their cases, and the reserves were lowered by $4 million," meaning that the company was asked to make full tax payment on their equipment and structures, but that the taxes of mineral rights were reduced from $39 to $35 million.The decision was made by the three members of the Appraisal Review Board: Alma Martin, Loretto Vasquez, and "Oscar" Vadeolo, who was attending his first meeting.

During the debate, representatives for the mining company argued that because the mine wasn't in production, it was being incorrectly valued. In response, the Capital Appraisal Group described how they based their valuation on Texas Property Tax Code, and drew information from the mining company's own website. They also complained that despite several requests, they did not receive timely information from the Rio Grande Mining, as well as from third-party organizations involved in the project. Charles Price of Capital Appraisal said he took exception to the company's inference that it's not a mine if it's not in production, and recommended that the Review Board tax the full amount. Clay Fowler of Capital Appraisal also questioned the mining company's claim that lands could not be correctly valued in advance of production.

Sandra Griffin, who provides legal counsel for the Appraisal Board, was on hand to clarify the Texas Property Tax Code.

Also present at the meeting were two members of the Presidio County Appraisal Board, Katherine Shaughnessy and Joanne Smith, as well as Dennis McIntyre, the Superintendent of Presidio Independent School District.

These taxes provide revenue for the operations of Presidio County, but also for the Hospital District and Presidio ISD.

This KRTS Report was prepared by Tom Michael and Joe Waggoner.