Nashwauk Leaders Say Local Mining Company Owes Millions in Tax Dollars

NASHWAUK, Minn. —¬†Nashwauk city leaders say they are struggling under financial pressures. They point the finger at the city’s largest tax payer– Mesabi Metallics.

“We shouldn’t have to hold a press conference every time we need Mesabi Metallics to pay their property taxes. We shouldn’t have to publicly shame them to pay the remaining 1.7 million dollars in property tax that’s owed,” said Itasca County Commissioner Ben DeNucci.

Over the course of several years, Nashwauk and Itasca county have sent many letters, held press conferences, and pleaded with Mesabi Metallics to pay the nearly 2 million tax dollars that they say their owed. Today, the local leaders went public with the matter.

Mayor Calvin Saari of Nashwauk said at today’s press conference, “I’ve always been totally supportive of this company, because I’ve taken the position of whoever owns that land is in a position to operate it. All that we want them to do is have the financial means to capitalize and complete the project, and to start production.”

When completed, project leaders say that it will be the largest mining investment ever in Minnesota, at more than 2.5 billion dollars.

“That ore is one of the most valuable in the world let alone the state at this time. It’s going to be developed someday, now is the time to do it,” said the Mayor.

As of yesterday, Mayor Saari says they received a partial tax payment of 500 thousand dollars from the company, but he states this is only a portion of what is still owed to the county. The Mayor also says that the city has a good relationship Mesabi Metallics local leaders, but the international owners have been hard to do business with.

“Being that the ownership is in Europe, the way they think financially is a lot different than we do. Everything is negotiable, if you have a tax bill that’s due, it’s negotiable. Their thought process is just a little different than ours and they don’t see the priority. They have failed to recognize that taxes in the United States, Itasca County, and the City of Nashwauk have to be paid by all of us,” said the Mayor.

Mayor Saari says that the city has been advised by its financial consultant to stop all infrastructure projects until the company pays up. “We’re gonna have to do some very serious changes to the way we do business on dealing with infrastructure items; dealing with fixing roads, dealing with the many projects that are needed within the town.”

Itasca County leaders say that this has created a region-wide problem– resulting in job loss within the area.

According to Itasca County Commissioner Terry Snyder, “the impact to Itasca County, roughly on the 2.1 million part, is about 10 full-time equivalent employees. This amount of employees might be an issue with our law enforcement, it might be issues with our road and bridge, or our maintenance departments.”

Another Itasca County Commissioner, Ben DeNucci, says that it might be time for a new organization to take over the project. “At the end of the day we need a community partner that understands it needs to fulfill its obligations. If Mesabi Metallics isn’t able to fulfill these obligations, maybe its time they consider selling their assets.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the State Executive Council will have the final decision on if the project moves forward or if the lease will be revoked.

We reached out to Mesabi Metallics for a comment, but the have not heard back regarding their tax payments.

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