Beauregard School Board voting on tax breaks

<p class="p1">The Beauregard Parish School Board is expected to vote Thursday night on its resolution to approve a 10 percent industrial tax exemption for one project at Packaging Corporation of America, and denial of tax exemptions on two other projects at the DeRidder container board mill. </p><p class="p3">The resolution is being introduced by the finance committee, which met Monday night to discuss the request from PCA to have a resolution approved by March 28. The projects had only been submitted to the panel the first week of March, and panel vice president Darrin Manuel said there was not enough time for the panel to appropriately discuss and approve a resolution before that deadline. </p><p class="p3">President David Vidrine said the seemingly rushed deadline was a source of anxiety for all parties involved in the tax exemption program, including the Beauregard Parish Police Jury and the Sheriff’s Office. </p><p class="p3">“There was a lot of consternation, I guess I could say, by all the municipalities who have met over this — as far as the timing of this,” Vidrine said. “We wondered why we were getting this a week before supposedly a drop-dead date to act on this when it seems like they have already done the projects.” </p><p class="p3">According to information on the projects emailed to Superintendent Timothy Cooley from PCA, the projects are dated for 2016 and most recently March 30 2017, but were all filed recently at the same time. </p><p class="p3">Another source of confusion for the committee was the exact amount of each project. According to Manuel, the three projects ranged in amounts reported to the School Board from just over $100,000 to around $4 million. However, according to the formal applications for the projects submitted to the state’s Business Incentive Program, those figures were completely different. </p><p class="p3">“In one project, the total investment cost was calculated at $3.7 million, but when you look at the actual application sent in for that same project you’re looking at a total investment of $300,000. So, it’s pretty confusing to say the least,” Manuel said. </p><p class="p3">There were no representatives of PCA at the committee meeting. </p><p class="p3">Manuel said he placed a call to a representative who made contact with the School Board during its first set of meetings on the tax exemptions in May of last year, but he said those calls were never returned.</p><p class="p3">The resolution the committee will present to the full panel Thursday night will approve the 10 percent tax exemption for a project that the plant said would create one job, which is what Vidrine said he believed the tax exemption program was geared toward. </p><p class="p3">“We certainly want to be industry friendly as much as we can, but as we also look for sources of where services are continuing to be provided in our education system, that pie is getting smaller and smaller,” Vidrine said.</p>

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