Port Commission offers support to St. Charles on Waterford issue

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 13, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 13, 1999

LAPLACE – The South Louisiana Port Commission has voted to support St.

Charles Parish’s continuing effort to preserve its Waterford 3 tax income.

Since coming on the parish’s tax rolls from a 10-year industrial tax exemption, ad valorem income has begun paying off.

St. Charles Parish finance director Roland Becnel said the parish’s taxingdistricts, including parish government, school board, sheriff’s office and other districts, received a total of $23,235,274 in 1998.

However, Sen. John Hainkel has filed Senate Bill 33, which calls for aredistribution of that wealth across most of Louisiana.

In the past two sessions, Parish President Chris Tregre has campaigned hard to preserve the tax income as it is, as the parish had to deal with the nuclear power plant’s presence for 10 years without the benefit of money to pay for those adjustments.

With more employees added to Entergy, more residents strained parish resources for roads, drainage, sewerage, schools and law enforcement.

Moreover, Tregre said, no other industry is taxed in the same manner. Hispoint of view has been widely supported statewide, as indicated by the swiftness Hainkel’s proposal has been shot down in past years.

Hainkel argues that since the power produced at the plant is sold all over the state, residents are, in effect, being “taxed without representation.”At the port commission meeting Wednesday, St. Charles CommissionerGreg Lier said the bill, if approved and signed in Baton Rouge, would “grossly affect St. Charles Parish.” He called for a resolution of supportand solidarity for the parish’s position. St. John Commissioner BrentTregre seconded it, and it passed unanimously.

In other action Glenn McGinnis, president of TransContinental Refining Co.

in Norco (formerly TransAmerican), saw approval of a bond issue to be set at nearly $60 million. The matter next goes to the State Bond Commissionon April 15.

The refinery, which markets product under the Orion name, produces 80,000 to 100,000 barrels per day, with all work on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the old Good Hope Refinery to be completed by this fall.

Employment at the plant peaked last year at 5,000 employees, including 20 contractors. When finished, the plant will sustain 700 full-timeemployees and 200 contract employees and produce 200,000 barrels per day.

The port commission also approved the hiring of two local contractors to cut grass – Blackie Services of Garyville for the lawn of the port office in LaPlace and Guidry’s Industrial of Reserve to cut the grass at Globalplex.

Finally, commission president Brandt Dufrene of St. Charles Paris chose tostep down from his office and supported St. James Commissioner CartDavis as his successor.

“I’ve advocated for years that nobody serve in any one office more than seven or eight months,” Dufrene said later. “This way, everybody getsexperience at everything, and you have the check and balance of the commission.”The next meeting of the South Louisiana Port Commission was rescheduled to April 13 at 6 p.m., as the port is hosting the annual Port Authorities ofLouisiana conference April 14-16.

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