Avoyelles Police Jury recommends Kerotest expansion tax break

Favors 80% exemption for two five-year periods

It took three meetings for the Avoyelles Police Jury to approve something that nobody opposed.

Juror Henry Moreau said he was a bit embarrassed that it took so long to approve a tax incentive recommendation for Kerotest’s proposed $4.3 million expansion of its valve plant in Mansura.

“This is the third meeting we’ve had on something we all agree on,” he said.

The final recommendation is a little different from previous versions, but the end result is about the same.

The recommendation to the state Board of Commerce & Industry is that Kerotest be given an 80 percent exemption on property tax for the new addition for five years. If it meets its promised goals for the expansion, it would be eligible for another five-year exemption of 80 percent.

In addition, the Police Jury, Sheriff’s Office and Town of Mansura have agreed to reimburse the company 100 percent of all sales/use taxes for construction materials and equipment related to the expansion project during the construction period.

The School Board would participate in the property tax exemption, but would be required by state law to accept the sales tax because the law prohibits the rebating of sales taxes dedicated to public education.

The jury had intended to recommend an 80 percent property tax exemption for eight years. However, there was some concern that the recommendation may not meet the state’s criteria for tax incentives and could result in Kerotest’s application for the incentive to be postponed or rejected.

That, in turn, could result in the company determining the proposed expansion at the Mansura plant would not be financially feasible.

If that happened, the company could opt to expand its plant in Pittsburgh, Pa., to meet the increased demand for its industrial valves.

Kerotest has applied for a 100 percent property tax exemption for five years with an option for three years at 80 percent if it meets its goals.

‘OUT-INCENTIVED’ IN ‘95

This area has been “out-incentived” by Pittsburgh in the past.

In 1995, Kerotest was faced with either making expensive upgrades at its 86-year-old plant in Pittsburgh or relocating its entire operation to Mansura and expanding its plant here.

Faced with wanting to retain a plant where the company was founded or to make the more economically feasible decision to move and expand at its Mansura plant, the company talked to Pittsburgh city officials about their situation.

Pittsburgh helped secure a $7 million low-interest loan to enable Kerotest to move into a new plant in Pittsburgh.

Had Pittsburgh not made the effort to retain Kerotest through that financial assistance, Mansura would be the company’s headquarters and the plant would be significantly larger.

Police Juror Marsha Wiley pointed out that all of the jurors and elected officials with the other taxing authorities are in favor of a tax incentive package for Kerotest’s expansion project.

NOBODY LOSING MONEY

“Nobody would be losing any money with this,” Wiley said, “we just would not be getting the additional money for the expansion due to the exemption.”

The taxing bodies would still receive all property and sales taxes they receive from the existing Kerotest plant and operations. The tax incentive applies only to the new addition.

The expansion includes constructing a 30,000 sq. ft. addition to meet the growing demand for its industrial valves, used in natural gas and water utility lines. It would create at least 50 new jobs. There is also the possibility of future expansion if the market remains favorable, company officials said earlier this year.

The construction would cost about $1.5 million. The equipment to operate the expanded operations would cost about $2.8 million.

Police Jury President Charles Jones pointed out that the Board of Commerce & Industry and Gov. John Bel Edwards will make the final decision on the tax incentive package. The local taxing authorities are only being asked for input and a recommendation on whether the incentives should be granted.

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