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      New tax base helps make school improvements possible

      Two years ago, the possibility of closure, and the loss of 25 jobs, was very real at Republic Michigamme Schools.

      The district was facing dire financial difficulty.

      But then Eagle Mine came to town.

      "The fact that Eagle Mine is contributing to the tax base here. That's all real positive of our economy. We want to make sure that businesses like the mine can continue to operate and provide the tax base that we need to provide facilities like this," said Congressman Dr. Dan Benishek.

      Originally when the mine was still Rio Tinto, it was going to pay a property tax.

      But then an agreement was negotiated to replace it with what's called a severance tax.

      This severance tax means that once the Eagle Mine starts producing ore, the taxation will be based on what they produce and sell at market value.

      Different entities that normally would have gotten the property taxes will get a piece of the severance tax instead.

      Which school officials see as an advantage.

      "The tax part of it is obviously big. In the past we've worked with Rio Tinto. They've actually worked with us on some upgrades here. Helped us with our computer labs, adding some things, and we're hoping maybe we'll be able to do the same thing with Lundin. Work some partnerships that they can help us with," said Paul Currie, the Administrator for Republic-Michigamme Schools.

      During the 2011-2012 school year, the district went to voters for a bond millage of $4.25 million.

      It passed, once voters were informed of the mine coming to town and bringing jobs and promised tax revenue for the school.

      In the summer of 2012, the school revamped the entire building with the money, from doors and windows, to a new roof, to a wood-chip fuelled biomass heating unit.

      "We're really happy to be a part of this community and it's been great to be here at Republic-Michigamme Schools today and see what the tax money from Eagle Mine has done for the school with the infrastructure improvements. So it's really exciting to see what's happening in this little town," said Dan Blondeau, Senior Advisor of Communications and Media for Lundin Mining.

      "It's good that the local community passed the millage. The fact that we have a better tax base now with the mine, and when it starts production it'll be even better. It's great for the community, great for our kids, and great for the potential for more jobs here in northern Michigan," said Congressman Benishek.

      The school also said the energy efficient improvements will save about $107,000 a year.