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What A Difference A Decimal Point Makes: Shafter Mine Owners Fight Tax Assessment

Sandy McVey, project manager, explains construction at the Shafter Mine Project in Shafter. Photo by Mike Graczyk for the San Angelo Standard Times.

The owner of the silver mine at Shafter, Texas is threatening to sue Presidio County.  Rio Grande Mining, a subsidiary of Vancouver, Canada-based Aurcanawas supposed to be assessed in 2012 for 35 million dollars.

Instead a clerical error resulted in the assessment reading 3.5-million dollars, one tenth of the correct total.

The company was informed of the error. The county sent the company an updated assessment, describing the clerical error and that the correct amount was $35-million.

Its reaction is contained in a letter obtained by KRTS/KXWT News.

In a document sent February 24, 2014 to Presidio County, Rio Grande Mining says the revised assessment is "unlawful."

Additionally a senior company executive, Bill Woods, writes that Rio Grande Mining--and by extension Aurcana--will file a lawsuit should Presidio County attempt to collect the difference based on the original and incorrect assessment and the amount the county says it is owned.

The letter reads
Should any efforts be made to collect or enforce this bill, I intend to engage my counsel to proceed with all legal remedies available, including a suit for injunctive relief."
Auranca arrived in 2012 with promises of sustainable job creation and taxes in an area starved for both.

In November, the company told Marfa Public Radio and West Texas Public Radio that the mine would be up and running by January.

That statement took place after half the mine's workforce was laid off.

The mine is not only not operating but it has shut the mine down. That is causing stress for county budget planners who had hoped Aurcana would become the county's largest taxpayer.

Lorne Matalon spoke to one official who has crafted a budget based on anticipated revenue from the mine.