River Parishes bureau
July 11, 2012
GONZALES — The Ascension Parish Council’s fiscal affairs committee has backed new sales tax rebates worth an estimated $3.77 million for two unnamed industrial projects eyeing the parish.
Combined, the projects — dubbed in code “Happy Corn” and “Oriole” — represent a total capital investment of $1.71 billion and 280 new, full-time, direct jobs, according to deal summaries provided to the committee.
Happy Corn represents $1.2 billion in capital investment, promising 55 full-time jobs and 2,000 construction jobs, a deal summary says.
Over 10 years, the project would mean $5.4 million in sales and property tax collections to parish government after a $2.3 million sales tax abatement.
Oriole represents $510.1 million in capital investment, 225 full-time jobs and 400 temporary construction jobs, a deal summary says.
Over 10 years, Oriole would mean $2.3 million in sales and property taxes to parish government after a $1.4 million sales tax abatement.
The Council Finance Committee supported the rebates under the Ascension Economic Development Corp.’s Ascension Advantage program without opposition Monday.
The full council, which comprises the Finance Committee, still has several votes before the rebates take effect.
The council had previously appeared to settle on rebating a half-cent of its 1-cent rural sales tax on rebates for construction materials and equipment purchases but on Monday agreed to a twist on the concept for the two projects.
Parish government would rebate 0.45 cent of its 1-cent sales tax revenue to the two companies but set aside the remaining 0.05 cent of the 1-cent collected from construction and equipment purchases for a fund that the parish would manage and AEDC could use for additional industrial and business inducements.
J. Michael Eades, chief executive officer and president of AEDC, told Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee that the fund could be used to build a road for a project or serve as a match for grants.
Happy Corn and Oriole are projected to generate a combined $413,900 over several years from the 0.05 set-aside if final approval is granted, according to deal summaries.
The concept drew compliments from Councilman Chris Loar, who said he thinks it is an example of forward thinking to attract major projects.
But the concept and the rebate program in general also caused concerns for some committee members and discussion whether it would be source for operating revenue for AEDC.
Eades and another AEDC official said it was not their recommendation.