While we are all focused on the important decisions facing us in the 2012 national elections, it is important that we take some time to consider issues facing our local and state economy. The Nov. 6 ballot includes several amendments to the Louisiana Constitution — among them one that will help us to create jobs in our region.
Amendment 8 allows parishes to opt into a program that provides a property tax exemption to competitive projects in certain key target industries. These kinds of projects — corporate headquarters, data centers, distribution facilities — are very competitive and Louisiana has often lost out to other states on similar projects in the past. Since many of our competitor states offer a lower property tax rate, we are at a disadvantage and are often overlooked.
The Legislature’s approval of this property tax exemption for competitive projects, and voter approval of Nov. 6, would allow each parish to opt into the program. No parish would be forced to participate.
For a parish to participate in the program, agreement must be reached among parish government, municipal government, the sheriff, school boards and the parish assessor. Opposition by any of these entities would exclude the parish from the program. The program will only be made available in participating parishes to companies creating at least 50 jobs and making a minimum $25 million capital investment.
It should also be noted that no current taxes would be removed from the rolls if this amendment passes. As a matter of fact, participating parishes would see greater tax revenues as projects are secured for their area. Companies that qualify for the incentive would be taxed on the first $10 million or 10 percent of market value on their investments, whichever is greater, meaning parish government, municipalities and schools would see an increase in revenue. The remaining capital investment would be tax-exempt for no more than 10 years — the same deal all 64 parishes currently offer manufacturing firms.
We believe that this is yet another effective arrow in our state’s quiver. The property tax exemption for competitive projects will create new opportunities for us to diversify our economy and attract the kinds of projects that will employ Louisiana citizens for years to come.
Please join the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Louisiana Municipal Association, the Louisiana School Board Association, the Lake Charles American Press, NOLA Gambit, the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, the Times-Picayune, the Shreveport Times and the Monroe News-Star in supporting this amendment. I encourage you to vote yes to Amendment 8 on Nov. 6.
Scott Chenevert, 2012 chairman,
board of directors, Baton Rouge Area Chamber