At its Aug. 17 meeting, the Natchitoches Parish Council voted unanimously to deny two industrial tax exemption applications by Martco, LLC for the RoyOMartin-Plywood manufacturing plant in Chopin. There was a third application by Alliance Compressors LLC.
Some members of the Council felt that by voting to roll forward the millages on the Road District 40 Fund at the same meeting, it wouldn’t be right to then turn around and give big companies a tax break.
Roy O Martin III, CEO of Martco, LLC said the plant has received approval from the Natchitoches Parish Council, and the former Police Jury, for an industrial tax exemption every year since 1996. Along with the largest plywood plant in North America, the company owns 68,000 acres of land in Natchitoches Parish. It’s also a part of the community, giving $915,000 to Northwestern State University in scholarships since 2004 and hiring seniors directly from Natchitoches Central and Lakeview High Schools.
Furthermore, the Council said that no one from RoyOMartin or Alliance showed up to talk about the applications. This seemed to be another mark against them when it came time to vote. The Council wants to find money to put toward the road budget, and seemed to think that the tax exemptions would help.
However, what the Council seemed to be missing is the fact that the tax exemptions are not a tax break across the board. The applications are for a tax abatement on a specific project (SEE DOCUMENTS BELOW). If the project doesn’t happen, it’s money the Parish won’t get. In other words, it’s money the Parish is getting in taxes that it wouldn’t get if the project doesn’t move forward.
RoyOMartin and Alliance are some of the highest tax contributors to the Natchitoches Parish economy. They’re also top employers and top contributors to further economic development in the Parish.
What’s more is that with land in 32 parishes, RoyOMartin keeps an eye out on the websites of governing bodies like Parish Council and Police Juries so the company knows when something is added to the agenda that will affect them. The industrial tax exemption applications are made not by the company itself, rather the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) submits the application on behalf of the company as part of the Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption Program (ITEP).
The Natchitoches Parish School Board and the City Council also recently approved tax exemption applications for RoyOMartin and Alliance.
RoyOMartin’s CEO said he looked into why they were unaware of their applications appearing on the Parish Council’s agenda and he said the agendas were not posted to the Parish Government’s website in advance of the Council’s meeting. When you look on npgov.org there’s an inconsistency to how the agendas and meeting minutes are posted to it.
This all begs the question, if these companies don’t receive support, what will the ramifications be for the local economy 5-10 years down the road?