Note: This article was initially published with the misleading headline “Together Baton Rouge” looking to take down ExxonMobil. In an email to our reporter, “Together Baton Rouge” rejected the headline’s claim that they were attempting to “take down” ExxonMobil and called the company a “well-respected and corporate partner in our community.” The article has been updated to more accurately reflect the intentions of “Together Baton Rouge” and include a link to their reasons to deny the exemptions. BRproud.com regrets this error.
Members with “Together Baton Rouge” say ExxonMobil’s request to keep more than $50 million worth of property tax will hurt Baton Rouge.
During a free and public event, members said these tax exemptions won’t create jobs and it will cost East Baton Rouge schools nearly $7 million for the next ten years.
Reportedly, Louisiana teachers have not seen a raise in at least ten years.
“These tax exemptions that Exxon and other plants are asking for could fund our school system to make sure our co-workers receive a raise,” said Angela Reams-Brown, with the EBR Federation of Teachers Association.
Governor John Bel Edwards released changes to the rules of governing the state’s industrial tax exemption program, or ITEP, on local property taxes.
On their website, “Together Baton Rouge” provides reasons they think the exemptions should be denied which include claims that the exemption requests are for projects that were completed in 2017.
ExxonMobil released the following statement as “Together Baton Rouge” made its claims against the plant:
1. ExxonMobil is investing more than $20 billion in the Gulf Coast due to the demand for sustainable plastics worldwide, the low cost of natural gas and the development of the Permian Basin in Texas. While ExxonMobil is deciding whether to invest a nearly $1B project here, Texas has continued to attract many projects as part of this investment initiative. We want to help Louisiana win more projects. However, we need a business environment that encourages capital investment and job-creating activities. For this reason, a predictable, stable tax climate is a key consideration for future ExxonMobil investment.
2. Like many other companies in Louisiana and in Baton Rouge, ExxonMobil waited until after the new ITEP rules were clarified and adopted before choosing to move forward with applications. These projects support product growth or diversification, add or retain jobs, position the site for future investment, or help the site to be competitive in the world market.
3. We are the largest property taxpayer in East Baton Rouge Parish and in Louisiana. ExxonMobil pays $32 million annually in property taxes and about $23 million annually in sales taxes after any ITEP abatements. All the $32 million in annual property tax payments made to East Baton Rouge Parish by ExxonMobil are used to fund schools, teacher salaries, police and fire protection, parks, street repairs and dozens of other important community priorities.
4. In 2017, we invested $269M in capital projects. The projects will generate $51M in tax revenue over 30 years.
Here are the facts of the two applications.
Refinery investment totals $64M. This includes 18 new employee jobs and 2,874 construction jobs totaling $1.9M in new employee payroll. Generates new revenue of $1.7M in new sales tax revenue and $21M in new property tax revenue over 20 years. Potential abatement of $600K a year over 10 years.
Polyolefins Plant investment totals $3M; Retains 244 employee jobs with a payroll of $25.6M and 150 construction jobs. These projects generate $52.5K in new sales tax revenue and $201K in new property tax revenue over 20 years. Potential abatement of $24.5K a year over 10 years.
5. We question why Together Baton Rouge continues to target just ExxonMobil’s use of the ITEP program when many other state and local companies are filing similar applications. ExxonMobil is the largest corporate contributor to the East Baton Rouge School System, the largest contributor to the Capital Area United Way, and has the ability to bring the largest projects to Baton Rouge.
6. ExxonMobil and contributions to the local school system
– ExxonMobil and its employees contributed nearly $4M to local nonprofit organizations and EBR schools in 2017 alone.
– In addition, ExxonMobil provided $13 million in advanced placement teacher support and program resources through the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). These funds go directly to local schools, teachers and students.
– ExxonMobil has donated $250,000 to the Foundation for the EBR School System over the past three years.
The vote for ExxonMobil’s application to move forward with its ITEP request will take place in two weeks.