Marquette City Commission signs joint defense agreement of Presque Isle Plant tax case

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission has approved and signed a joint defense agreement to fight a Michigan Tax Tribunal case.

WE Energies is trying to have the taxable value of the Presque Isle Power Plant reduced by more than $100 million. If the Tax Tribunal agrees that the plant’s value should be reduced, it would save WE Energies millions a year in taxes. Marquette County and MARESA have already signed a joint defense agreement to share some of the city’s legal costs in fighting the case.

“It’ll affect a lot of different governmental agencies substantially,” Marquette mayor Mike Coyne said. “I mean, it’s our responsibility as representatives to look out for the interests of the citizens, and this is a way of doing that. They recognize that they’re going to have a decrease in their tax revenue also.”

The State of Michigan, the Marquette Area Public Schools and the Marquette District Library are also included on the agreement but have yet to sign it. There’s no timetable on when the case will come before the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

“I frankly don’t know when it will come,” Coyne said. “Sometimes the legal system moves very slowly. I really don’t know, but we’re in good shape. We’ve got everything in order now and an excellent attorney representing us.”

WE Energies is Marquette’s largest single taxpayer. The company has claimed that the plant isn’t worth as much as it used to be with Cliffs Natural Resources now buying its electricity elsewhere and the plant losing most of its electric load.