Central Community School Board Unlikely to Oppose ITEP Application by Custom Metal

Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Extension Program (ITEP)was begun in 1974. Since then, it has brought billions of dollars in new investment to the State of Louisiana. Under the program, industry submits proposals to the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry for approval. 

If approved, 80 percent of property taxes can be abated for a period of five years with an extension for an additional five years. After that, the property goes on the tax rolls, and the business pays property taxes as would any other business property, which is assessed at 15 percent of actual value. 

In order to qualify, a business must show that the investment will create new jobs.

Shortly after becoming governor, John Bel Edwards directed the Board of Commerce and Industry to change the program to allow local government involvement. This meant that each local property taxing district would have the authority to veto the industrial tax exemption within that parish or other jurisdiction. 

Since then, the program has been roundly criticized by business.  Some major industries such as Exxon have redirected their investments from Louisiana to Texas. This month, the first proposal under the governor’s rules has come before a taxing body in Central. 

A proposal by Custom Metal Works on Hooper Road would abate taxes on nearly $1 million in capital expenditures. That tax break is being considered by the Central Community School Board. 

Clifford George, owner of Custom Metal, said his company has purchased a new laser cutter which can do rounds, squares, and various shapes. It will mean that local industry will be serviced and will no longer have to go out of state for this type of work. 

Custom Metals provides work for local industry and national clients, including manufacturers of utility vehicles, material handling, airports, agriculture, John Deere, Siemens, electrical manufacturers, and companies that build trailers. 

George said, “We’ll have to get approval from each taxing authority. This includes the Central school board, the sheriff, BREC, the Central Fire District, and others. If approved, the exemption would be for five years with a five-year renewal. It would mean a reduction in taxes of about $5,000 a year or about $50,000 altogether over 10 years.”

George said he believes the industrial tax exemption program has been successful in creating jobs, but it’s not always about creating new jobs. He said sometimes it’s necessary to replace equipment just to stay competitive. In that case, that means staying in business and keeping jobs. 

The Central Community School Board has not made a final decision. If they take no action, the exemption is automatically approved. So far, there was no opposition from the board.  They have until March 17 if they desire to deny the exemption. The school board next meets on March 14. School board member Kim Powers says she has seen no opposition and is fairly confident the school board will have no objection to this tax incentive.

Custom Metal is located at 15353 Hooper Rd, Greenwell Springs, LA 70739.  It is owned by Clifford and Linda George.

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