Parishes deserve tax break input

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

St. John the Baptist Parish and the rest of the parishes located along the Mississippi River in our part of the state are home to numerous industries.

Companies with local backgrounds and international roots continue to make the River Region their home. Strong infrastructure and numerous business enticements have allowed businesses along the Port of South Louisiana to flourish.

The enticements often include tax breaks from taxing jurisdictions, including law enforcement, libraries, fire protection and water districts. St. John the Baptist Parish is no stranger to this process, but oftentimes our own local jurisdictions are left out of the loop in the negotiations.

In a bid to change the way Louisiana operates, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced changes last month to the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which allows manufacturers to secure a 100 percent exemption of local property taxes on eligible new building and equipment expenditures for up to 10 years.

Louisiana Economic Development previously screened Program applications for eligibility, the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry approved the contracts and the contracts were effective upon the governor’s signature.

Edwards signed off on new guidelines, adding the provision local governments sign off on the level of local tax exemption that is acceptable to their governing boards for projects in their jurisdictions.

“We would like to have some input going into the agreement, rather than having business or LED or industry show up at our door saying they have already received this credit not to pay taxes at our local municipality without ever having the discussion with the municipality,” St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom told L’OBSERVATEUR.

It’s a reasonable request and one that state officials seem to be prioritizing.

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said the new guidelines are a pledge to taxpayers that the Office of the Governor, LED and the Board of Commerce & Industry are working to ensure manufacturing investments are good for the economy and local governments, schools and other taxing jurisdictions.

The River Parishes could stand to benefit the most from this collaboration.