Is Ascension giving away too much in industrial tax exemptions?

Ascension’s taxing authorities never met an Industrial Tax Exemption they didn’t like.  At the most recent Parish Council meeting it was Shell Chemical over which members gushed, insipidly begging the petrochemical giant to up its local investment by $1.2 billion in return for a $104 million ITEP exemption (which does not include others expected from other taxing authorities).  Are ITEP exemptions smart fiscal policy for Ascension Parish?

The District 10 Parish Councilman and his brethren certainly seem to think so.

“We know you have choice of where you want to go. We appreciate you selecting Ascension Parish. I know we’re still competing, but we’re going to extend the hand of friendship and welcome,” Councilman John Cagnolatti characterized the offer of exemption.

According to Plant Manager Rhoman Hardy the exemption “incentive is a huge part of (Shell’s) decision” to locate its new monoethylene glycol unit that would increase existing capacity by a factor of five.  1,030 construction jobs, 23 new permanent jobs with a

Jeff Pettit, who has declared his intention to challenge Cagnolatti (assuming he seeks reelection), takes issue with such “mindless sycophancy.”

“The deal sounds good on its face,” Pettit conceded.  “Do we know whether the positive fiscal effects will outweigh additional burden on Ascension’s woefully inadequate infrastructure?”

Shell’s pitch

He posed a series of questions which seem to never occur to council members:

  • Will those 23 permanent jobs be realized; and will Ascension Parish residents be hired?
  • What about those 1,030 construction jobs?
  • Is there a mechanism in place to verify it?
  • How much can Ascension expect to realize in sales tax?
  • Are there sales tax exemptions being offered in the way of credits?
  • Has the parish or Shell factored in additional burden on local roads?
  • Is this a net gain for Ascension Parish?

What taxing authorities can expect

“We hear the same argument with regard to new subdivisions, every rooftop brings new taxpayers to the parish,” Pettit said.  “Those new taxes fail to offset new demand on parish infrastructure.  And it’s not even close.”

Without the exemption parish government would stand to receive $26 million over the first ten years of property tax collection.  Including all taxing authorities annual revenue projections envision $10 million.

Proponents argue that, without the exemption, there will not be any new property valuation to tax.  Billed as the indispensable bait with which to lure all those billions of dollars invested by petro-chemical plants, traditional thinking has come under fire recently from a group calling itself Together Louisiana.  

 

Is Ascension giving away too much?  According to Together Louisiana the parish is losing…

Would Shell, and Methanex, and CF Industries, and all those other multi-national companies have chosen Ascension for investment without ITEP?

 

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