PILOT process regarding government payment from taxes passes House

<p class="p1">BATON ROUGE — The House approved a proposed constitutional amendment Tuesday that would permit local governments to seek payments in lieu of taxes from manufacturers eligible for the state 10-year industrial tax exemptions.</p><p class="p1">Cameron Parish taxing agencies lost court battles that would have allowed Cameron LNG to pay a fixed amount now instead of taxes at the end of its exemption. The amendment, if approved by voters in October, would legalize the PILOT process.</p><p class="p1">The vote that sent the bill to the Senate was approved 75-20, five more than the 70 required.</p><p class="p1">Reps. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles; Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur; Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff; A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles; Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings; Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville; and Frank Howard, R-Many, voted for the bill.</p><p class="p1">Reps. James Armes, D-Leesville, and Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek, were opposed.</p><p class="p1">The state Supreme Court declined to review an appeal by supporters of a PILOT tax plan.</p><p class="p1">The application was filed by the Cameron Parish Police Jury, the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Cameron Parish School Board. The plan was rejected in Cameron district court and by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal prior to the Supreme Court decision.</p><p class="p1">Cameron Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque said the plan was to bring money into Cameron’s cash-poor tax bodies sooner rather than later.</p><p class="p1">“The goal of this from day one has been to achieve a sustainable quality of life for the people of Cameron,” he said in January. “If that meant collecting less early, we were OK with that.”</p><p class="p1">The tax assessor, represented by Baton Rouge attorney Brian Eddington, opposed the plan on grounds that it was unconstitutional and taxpayers would pay less than they would after 10 years.</p><p class="p1">Under the Cameron proposal, the parish would begin collecting a fixed amount — $503.5 million over the next 23 years — instead of paying an estimated $1.5 billion in property taxes starting in 2029.</p><p class="p1">Pilot supporters said the legislation would give taxing authorities more freedom to negotiate tax plans with incoming industries.</p><p class="p1">The legislation had the support of the Louisiana Police Jury Association, the Louisiana Municipal Association and economic development groups in the state, including those in Southwest Louisiana.</p>