Avoyelles Police Jury to provide Kerotest tax incentive ‘input’
After running into some confusion concerning exactly what kind of “local input” the state wants about local economic development tax incentives, the Avoyelles Police Jury appears ready to submit a recommendation it hopes meets the state’s needs.
At its Aug. 14 meeting, the Police Jury discussed a proposed tax incentive package for Kerotest Manufacturing’s $4 million expansion project.
Several Kerotest employees attended the meeting to show their support for the tax incentives.
The company is employee-owned, so all employees would be affected by growth of the local plant.
When it appeared the Police Jury and other affected taxing bodies may have gone “above and beyond” the request for public input, jurors asked for a legal review before making a final decision.
SPECIAL MEETING SET FOR MONDAY
After reviewing the matter for a few days, the jury called a special meeting for 4 p.m. Monday (Aug. 27) in the parish-owned LSU AgCenter in Mansura. The jury will approve a final recommendation to the state Board of Commerce & Industry on the requested tax incentive.
That new input favors an 80 percent property exemption on the expansion for five years with the option of renewing the 80 percent exemption for another three.
The expansion project will increase Kerotest’s production and add 50 new jobs. It also sets up the possibility of future expansion and job creation at the Mansura valve plant.
Police Jury President Charles Jones said a committee of representatives from the Police Jury, School Board, Sheriff’s Office and Town of Mansura met and recommended a tax incentive package of granting a property tax exemption on the expansion of 80 percent for 8 years.
In addition, all but the School Board agreed to rebate 100 percent of the sales tax for construction material and equipment purchased as part of the valve plant’s expansion project.
The School Board is prohibited by state law from rebating any sales tax dedicated for public education, even as part of an economic development incentive package.
Kerotest attorney William Shockey and Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance Vice President Larkin Simpson spoke at the Police Jury meeting on Aug. 14.
Both said the apparent intent of the request for local input was for an opinion on the proposal as presented, and not for local taxing bodies to consider alternative incentive packages.
The request for input was unclearly worded and “you aren’t the only ones who were confused about this,” Shockey noted.
Simpson said Kerotest’s concern is that the proposal presented by the Avoyelles taxing bodies could cause the Board of Commerce & Industry (C&I) to kick out Kerotest’s application because it is not one of the incentive package options in the board’s program.
Shockey said Kerotest filed its request for an economic development incentive when the state allowed a 100 percent property tax exemption for five years and then the possibility of an 80 percent exemption for three years.
The program changed shortly after that to allowing an 80 percent exemption for 10 years, broken up into two five-year terms.
WANTS LOCAL INPUT
Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he wants local input on such tax incentive projects before C&I approves them. However, it now appears the state doesn’t want that input to be too detailed.
Shockey said it was apparently not intended that local governments recommend percentages for exemptions, but rather whether the requesting industry really deserves any tax breaks.
For example, if an industry asked for tax breaks but the Police Jury did not consider them a good industrial citizen or had problems with how they were operating in the parish, the jury could oppose the state granting any tax incentives, Shockey said.
The Police Jury tentatively approved the recommendation reached by the committee of taxing authorities, with the provision that it would have additional reviews with the district attorney and make changes if needed to ensure Kerotest’s request for the incentive package continues unimpeded to Baton Rouge.
“We’re not making the final decision on this anyway,” Jones said. “We’re just making a recommendation.”