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Appeal expected for industry tax exemption approval

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish Council is faced with an appeal process for an industry tax exemption that was approved on a technicality, due to what appears to be a clerical error. The matter will be discussed tonight at the 6:30 p.m. Parish Council meeting at 1811 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace.

In November, the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board and Parish Council voted to deny Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) applications from Marathon and Nalco. The exemptions were set at 80 percent for a period of five years, with the option to extend another five years. As stated on the applications, a response is required within 30 days, or the application is considered approved.

Despite voting unanimously to deny the application, the Council did not give notice to Louisiana Economic Development within the required timeline, and the Board of Commerce and Industry approved the tax exemptions.

District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut said the matter was between the administration and the Parish Council.

“I can confirm that we are aware of notification that the denial of the application was not submitted in a timely fashion, and therefore the ITEP was approved,” Dinvaut said. “There is a reconsideration process. That is something the Council will have to discuss at their meeting and make some kind of determination as to how and why the ball was dropped on this.”

Advocacy group Together Louisiana led community meetings in opposition to the ITEP applications before the November votes.

“Our hope is that this appeal goes through and is supported because it clearly is a case where the local entities have decided they don’t think this exemption is a good decision,” said Broderick Bagert of Together Louisiana.

While he can’t predict what the end result of the reconsideration process will be, he thinks it’s probable the appeal will be upheld with the support of a vocal community.

“That’s not going to be changed by this,” Bagert said. “If anything, I think the resolve would be strengthened.”

The Board of Commerce and Industry will meet Feb. 21 in Baton Rouge.