ExxonMobil canceled two property tax break requests in East Baton Rouge last week due to “ongoing local uncertainty surrounding the program,” the company said in a sharply-worded statement. In a letter addressing its withdrawal, Exxon announced it would no longer consider Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) incentives in future investment opportunities in the state.
The withdrawal came days after the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board rejected the company’s two tax break requests for the first time. Together Baton Rouge, a faith-based advocacy group, urged the Sheriff, School Board and Metro Council of East Baton Rouge to reject the requests in an “ITEP Petition” which garnered 799 signatures.
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) issued several clear-cut statements calling the opposition a “circus” and denouncing the antagonization of East Baton Rouge’s largest property taxpayer.
The ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Polyolefins Plant is currently considering a more than $500 million polypropylene project. Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the city hopes to get that investment and is ready to compete for it during a press conference held Monday, Jan. 28. However, with the “uncertain” business climate the company may consider other options.
In the wake of the attack on ITEP, West Side leaders have assured ExxonMobil and other industry leaders the “business-unfriendly” attitude ends at the Mississippi River.
Earlier this month, the West Baton Rouge Parish Council, School Board, and Sheriff unanimously approved an ITEP request for a $4.3 million expansion by ExxonMobil at its Port Allen Lubricants Plant.
“We appreciate having ExxonMobil in our community. The more they invest here, the more our parish benefits from the tax revenue and jobs created,” Barry Hugghins, Vice Chairman of the WBR Parish Council, said. “We understand the importance of economic development and will do everything we can to work with industry to help drive it in this parish.”