UPDATE: Technocon (Alliance Metals) has paid their taxes. Treasurer Leah Castro said they received payment Dec. 16. Between the time the Pioneer interviewed Assessor Anna Camacho and Castro and the Dec. 18 edition on the Pioneer came out, the payment was received and recorded.
"As of Dec. 16, their accounts are paid and up to date," Castro said.
La Paz County Assessor Anna Camacho has raised concerns over Alliance Metals’ proposed aluminum recycling smelter near Wenden. Her concerns are not so much environmental ones as they are financial. She claims Alliance Metals has not paid their taxes, followed mandated procedures on applications, or paid many of their fees.
Alliance Metals is owned by Technocon International of Miami Beach, Fla. They have plans to build an aluminum recycling smelter on property they purchased between Wenden and Salome. They say they will run a safe and environmentally clean operation. Critics say they are concerned about emissions, hazardous materials, traffic on U.S Route 60, and the possibly detrimental effect on local agriculture.
At the Dec. 5 County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, Camacho said Alliance had not paid the property taxes on the property they purchased near Wenden. She later said this amount came to $8,952.42.
Although Alliance attorney Tom Galvin of the Rose Law Group said the taxes were paid Dec. 2, County Treasurer Leah Castro said that, as of Dec. 12, her office had received no payment from Alliance. She added they have until Dec. 31 before they become delinquent. She stated it was possible the payment could have been sent to a wrong address.
Camacho said Alliance purchased seven parcels in December 2018. These parcels once held a large cotton gin.
Camacho said Alliance had applied to merge these parcels. To do that, she said her office would have to assign a new parcel number and retire the old ones. However, by state law, that can only be done once all taxes are up to date.
In order to process the application to combine the parcels, Camacho said a recorded survey and a legal description were needed. She told Deputy County Attorney Ryan Dooley that Alliance was informed of this March 2019 and her office received no response. In November, a letter was sent to Techncon at their Miami Beach address informing them the application could not be processed because a survey and legal description were needed. Camacho said her office, again, received no response.
Camacho said Alliance paid $1,100 for their application to amend the county’s comprehensive plan. She said that was the price per parcel. As there are seven parcels involved, the fee should have been $7,700.
As for the proposed rezoning, Camacho told Dooley those fees had not been paid, either.
The county is not the only one who has not been paid by Alliance, Camacho said. As was reported in the Pioneer, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has granted a Class II Air Quality Permit to Alliance, but the permit has not been issued because they have not paid their fees.
Erin Jordan, a spokesperson for ADEQ, told the Pioneer that, as of Dec. 12, they had received no fee payment from Alliance.
At the Dec. 5 Planning & Zoning meeting, the commission voted to recommend the County Board of Supervisors reject the request for the change to the comprehensive plan and a zoning change that would’ve allowed the smelter at its proposed location.
Alliance has stated the Dec. 5 meeting, which was held at the Centennial Community Center near Wenden, was set to “stack the deck” against them. They have portrayed opponents of their project as opponents of jobs, new tax revenue for the county, and development.
One of the leading opponents of the proposed smelter, Gary Saiter, said the meeting was held in Wenden so the people to be most affected by the smelter would have a chance to attend.