After years of unmitigated support, the Town of Superior voted on Feb. 21, 2013 to terminate its mutual benefits agreement with Resolution Copper Company and rescinded its unqualified support for the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange, the federal bill crucial to the Resolution Copper Project.
According to a written statement released by the Town, support has been withdrawn for the project because of what the town sees as an unfair deal outlined in the agreement.
The letter also argued the Town cannot afford the purchase of property outlined in the land exchange and suggested that certain provisions in the bill would constitute illegal land zoning and unlawful delegation of the town council’s legislative authority.
The 2010 renewal of the mutual benefits agreement was also put in motion by Council member Hank Gutierrez, who lost his seat on the council in 2012 after his vote in the regard to the agreement was determined to be a conflict of interest by the state Attorney General.
In a letter written to bill co-sponsors Paul Gosar (CD-4) and Ann Kirkpatrick (CD-1), as well as Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, the Town said it could not support the federal land exchange bill.
“While the Town generally supports the mine, we cannot offer our unqualified support of the bills as drafted,” the letter reads.
The Town’s statement argues because of its budget crisis, it cannot afford the purchase of the cemetery, an airport reversionary interest and some adjacent airport property as outlined by the land exchange.
According to the statement, the purchase price of these properties was to be set by federal appraisal standards, the agreement dictated which properties were to be purchased and in what order, and the Agreement provided for a loan of up to $8,000,000 to the Town to buy the properties, provided that if the Town ever sold any portion of the properties it was to pay to Resolution a release price.
“The Town finances simply cannot support these purchases or terms,” the statement read.
The Town’s statement argues that article 8.4 of the agreement provides that Resolution shall have no liability to the Town for contributions or otherwise, if, in Resolutions’ sole discretion, “other factors” are needed to accomplish the Exchange.
“In other words, the interests of the Town could be bargained away if necessary to accomplish the Land Exchange,” the statement reads.