School Board approves Lotte-Westlake Chemical tax exemption

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Calcasieu Parish School Board members on Tuesday approved one industrial tax exemption while denying two others.

The board unanimously approved a 10-year, 80 percent industrial tax exemption for LACC LLC, a joint venture between Lotte Chemical Corp. and Westlake Chemical Corp. It denied two ITEP applications by W.R. Grace and Co.

The LACC exemption would generate $1.84 million in property taxes over 10 years for all jurisdictions, which include the School Board, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office and Calcasieu Police Jury. It would exempt an estimated $7.36 million in property taxes over 10 years for all three jurisdictions.

The exemption would generate $5.67 million in property taxes over 20 years, along with $3.19 million in sales taxes generated from capital expenditures. The Police Jury and Sheriff’s Office still have to take action on their parts of the exemption.

Officials with LACC told the School Board that the application is for an expansion of its ethylene plant to construct a seventh heater. The project is a $72.5 million investment and will add three new direct jobs and 125 construction jobs. The expansion is expected to begin in 2023.

Meanwhile, a 10-year, 80 percent ITEP application by W.R Grace and Co. failed with a 7-7 vote. The application was filed in 2020, but was delayed because of COVID-19.

The project, which is already complete, created five jobs.

Voting to approve the application were Billy Breaux, Damon Hardesty, Aaron Natali, Dean Roberts, Alvin Smith, Eric Tarver and Mark Young. Voting to deny were Annette Ballard, Russell Castille, Mack Dellafosse, John Duhon, Glenda Gay, Fredman Hardy and Desmond Wallace.

A second 10-year, 80 percent ITEP application by W.R. Grace failed with a 9-5 board vote. The application was for capital projects “not considered maintenance, but upgrades or improvements over the next two years,” the description stated. Other improvements included new storage tanks and other new equipment.

Some projects listed in the description would be considered rehabilitation to deal with systems that are obsolete, which some board members took issue with using an ITEP for.

“I don’t feel I can vote for this because it’s saying you’re rehabilitating your existing plant because it’s obsolete, therefore you didn’t take care of it to begin with,” Castille said.

Wallace said his biggest concern with the application was that it would only create two direct jobs.

Voting against the exemption were Ballard, Breaux, Castille, Dellafosse, Duhon, Gay, Hardey, Natali and Wallace. Hardesty, Roberts, Smith, Tarver and Young voted for the exemption.