School board members weigh in on recent Exxon announcement

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From a ‘yes’ vote to a ‘no’ vote, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Dawn Collins explained why she felt these latest Exxon Mobil tax exemption requests were different than the one she approved in the past.

“It was genuinely an incentive because Exxon was going through the process at that time saying ‘we want the project here’,” Collins said. “This project, we voted as a board to deny. I voted that way because it is not an incentive. The project is complete.”

School Board president Michael Gaudet voted to approve the requests. He explained that Exxon did everything the company was supposed to do.

“The biggest factor was that Exxon followed the procedures as put forth by the state and, the fact that it was completed already, wasn’t their fault,’ Gaudet said.

After the board narrowly rejected the Exxon ITEP requests last week, Exxon announced it would no longer pursue 2017 ITEP requests. The company said the ‘no’ vote from the school board creates uncertainty. Business leaders argued the move could put future expansion projects in jeopardy. 

The school board did approve a set of guidelines to follow for all future ITEP requests. Gaudet said those guidelines should clear up uncertainty.

“What was really a policy decision turned into an Exxon decision, which I think is really unfair. I do understand some of their concerns. I do think we have put guidelines in place that can give them more certainty moving forward,” Gaudet said.

We reached back out to Exxon after hearing from Collins on her decision. Company officials pointed us to the statement sent Tuesday.

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