Ascension grants Methanex Corp. rebates for new plant

The Ascension Parish Council on Thursday officially approved rebating “significant incentives” to Methanex Corp. for relocating a $550 million methanol plant from Chile to Geismar.

Methanex, of Vancouver, Canada, announced in April it would bring a second methanol plant to Ascension Parish after initially announcing in January 2012 it would make a $400 million investment in the parish by bringing a plant to Geismar.

The incentives package would rebate a half-cent of eligible sales tax on the purchase of construction materials, with 45 percent of that going to Methanex and 5 percent going to the Ascension Economic Development Corp.

The expected rebate is estimated at $450,000.

The agreement also says that the rebate is conditioned upon the creation of 35 new full-time jobs in the parish, but it would be reduced if the company fails to meet that goal. Should Methanex create only 32 jobs, its rebate would be limited to 91.1 percent, the agreement says.

Councilman Kent Schexnaydre applauded Parish President Tommy Martinez and Ascension Development President Mike Eades for “stepping forward” and creating a program to make sure businesses follow through with their promises in order to receive their full incentives.

“It’s a pilot program to encourage to add more incentives to get industries to come in,” Schexnaydre said. “It’s a little bit different. We’re constantly evolving with this process.”

The council agreed last year to rebate its 1-cent sales tax on construction materials and equipment for the first plant, a rebate worth an estimated $1.61 million.

As part of the new agreement, Methanex agreed to purchase gas and water from the parish if it eventually can provide such service “at a reasonably competitive price.”

Parish officials have been exploring the possibility of buying natural gas from pipelines running through the parish and selling it at a profit to industrial users along the Mississippi River as well as working with Georgia-based startup Water and Power Cogen Development LLC on a parishwide water plan that would tap unused saline aquifers to produce fresh potable and industrial-grade water.

Other matters considered at the meeting include:

MILLAGE RATES: The council unanimously adopted the parish’s 2013 millage rate at 94.02 mills throughout the parish.

The rate includes 20 mills for Fire District No. 3, 10 mills for Utilities District No. 1, 10 mills for West Ascension Drainage District, 5 mills for East Ascension Drainage District, 5 mills for Road Lighting Districts 1 and 3-7, and 6.8 mills for library maintenance.

Other taxes include a parish tax of 2.86 mills in incorporated areas and 1.43 mills in Gonzales and Donaldsonville.