Decision delayed on proposal for rum distillery tax exemption

Industrial Tax Exemptions

JENNINGS — The Jeff Davis Parish School Board tabled a decision Thursday to grant an Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) application for Louisiana Spirits, which produces Bayou Rum at its facility in Lacassine.

School Board President Philip Arceneaux asked the board to consider the application from Louisiana Spirits for a 10-year tax exemption on a $4.5 million plant expansion.

The total annual exemption being requested by Louisiana Spirits from all applicable taxing jurisdictions, including the School Board, is about $67,000 annually, according to School Board Finance Director Bill Hebert.

The proposal would exempt the company from paying 80 percent, or $66,892, in ad valorem taxes to help offset the cost of the expansion of its manufacturing process to include bottling of Bayou Rum products. The company has paid $140,000 in local sales taxes on materials for the expansion project which included a new event center, according to company officials.

Superintendent Kirk Credeur said the company has already asked for a tax exemption from the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury, who tabled their decision pending additional information on job creations for local residents and how it will attract additional businesses.

The Police Jury is expected to discuss the matter at its Aug. 21 meeting. A final decision could be made Aug. 28.

“My problem is, we are looking at breaking even, so if we’re going to give a 10-year tax exemption how does that affect us,” board member Donn E. Dees asked. “This doesn’t look like the time we need be extending taxes.”

The board does not have to grant the full extension, but could grant it for a different level, Dees said.

School Board member Jimmy Segura asked the board to table the matter until the board could get more information on the tax exemption including where the company stands on its original tax exemption for the initial project and how the exemption would affect the board.

In July, Amy McFarland, who oversees hospitality for Louisiana Spirits and Bayou Rum, told police jurors the company wants to increase production, jobs and revenues with the expansion. The company currently pays the parish nearly $30,000 annually in taxes which will increase with continued production and the addition of new liqueurs and labels, she said.

The expansion created three new permanent jobs with $90,000 in salaries and 30 construction jobs with salaries totaling $2 million, according to information provided to the state.

Officials said the expansion will continue to create additional jobs in production and at the new event center with additional revenues coming from alcohol sales and future expansions.

Jeff Murphy, operations manage at Louisiana Spirits, said future expansions will include a $3 million bottling process expected to be completed by 2021. Other expansions will include the addition of a $6 million, 50,000-square-foot warehouse for packaged goods and increased production of the Bayou Rum products as it continues to revamp it’s labels.