Letter: Sand company must at least pay minimal tax, feeTO THE EDITOR: In the musical, The Music Man, Harold Hill comes to River City to sell the locals useless musical instruments. Right here in the river cities of the Mississippi valley, we have our own Harold Hill —the frack sand mining companies.
By: David Husom and Ann-Marie Rose, Hager City, Pierce County Herald
TO THE EDITOR: In the musical, The Music Man, Harold Hill comes to River City to sell the locals useless musical instruments. Right here in the river cities of the Mississippi valley, we have our own Harold Hill —the frack sand mining companies.
Bluff sand is worth over $100 a ton. The mines in Maiden Rock and Bay City currently remove over two million tons a year. An additional one million tons will be removed from the Diamond Bluff/Oak Grove mine.
At an average of $100 per ton, WISC and its Ohio-based parent company intend to remove over $300 million a year from our communities. Of course this is not all profit. But the profit margins in this industry are exceedingly high according to SEC filings from similar companies.
Of course WISC does give back to the communities. Employees will be drawn from a 50-mile radius. This is an area over five times the size of Goodhue and Pierce counties combined.
Last year, according to their own report and the Pierce County Economic Development director, the company paid out a whopping $12,000 in property taxes.
We must not be another River City. Other counties are now charging a tax on sand mining. A minimal tax or environmental fee of $1 to $3 a ton can bring in development funds that can be split between the county and all the river towns. WISC can easily afford to pay this fee. If not, it might be time to look for a company that will.
Silica sand mining has known health risks, water issues and a 10-30% drop in home values for houses near mines and processing. It is time for WISC to listen to the community. Negotiate fairly using industry standards like the Howard agreement that guarantee water quality and home values.