County OKs tax abatements for new mine
by James Phillips
May 22, 2012 | 2605 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A coal belt conveyer running from No. 7 Mine to No. 5 Mine preparation plant. The conveyer is part of a new plant proposed by Walter Energy for northern Tuscaloosa County. - Photo Special to the Eagle.
A coal belt conveyer running from No. 7 Mine to No. 5 Mine preparation plant. The conveyer is part of a new plant proposed by Walter Energy for northern Tuscaloosa County. - Photo Special to the Eagle.
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The Walker County Commission gave its approval Monday for tax abatements related to the Walter Energy mine project, which will have work sites in Tuscaloosa, Fayette, Mobile and Walker counties.

The action taken by commission members Monday gave permission to the Walker County Economic and Industrial Development Authority to give final approval of the abatements.

The mine will be located in Tuscaloosa County near Brandon School Road and Highway 69 North. The location is 13 miles from Oakman and 24 miles from Jasper. Construction of the mine is expected to begin in late 2012 and is estimated to take five years.

The project will include a barge loading facility in Walker County with Walter Energy investing about $70 million creating the facility, as well as the conveyer belt linking it to the mine in Tuscaloosa County.

David Knight, executive director of the WCEIDA, said Walter Energy will be applying to the Walker County Development Authority for an abatement of the noneducational property, sales and use taxes for the barge loading facility. The estimated amount of sales and use taxes eligible for abatement is $1.4 million, while the estimated amount of sales and use taxes due to Walker County for educational purposes is also $1.4 million.

The estimated total amount of property taxes eligible for abatement is just more than $1 million over the 10-year maximum exemption period, while the estimated amount of property taxes due to Walker County for educational purposes is $945,000.

Dennis Hall, Walter Energy director of public relations, said the mine will create more than 500 jobs. Some miners in Fayette will transfer to the Tuscaloosa mine, but Hall expected as many as 450 new job opportunities for miners in the area.

Mike Hurley, vice president of tax for Walter Energy, told commissioners he felt the project would be good for his company and the communities where the mine is located.

“We are excited about the proposed mine and feel it will be good for everybody,” he said.

Commission Chairman Bruce Hamrick said the announcement of the project was welcomed news.

“I am very excited,” he said. “Everybody that I’ve talked to has been well pleased with Walter Energy, and people are happy that this number of jobs will be coming to our area.”

Knight said he expected the abatements would receive final approval at the development authority’s July meeting.

In other action at Monday’s meeting, the commission:

•Approved a bid for milling and patching bridge ends on Johnsey Bridge Road.

•Approved a list of insolvents from the Walker County Revenue Commission.

•Scheduled a work session for Friday at 9:30 a.m. in the commission’s board room at the Walker County Courthouse. The reason for the work session is to discuss the possibility of changing the county’s garbage pickup to an automated system.