City rescinds Titan tax exemption

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 1999

After a public protest by the local Steelworkers union, the board of aldermen rescinded its tax exemption for equipment for Titan Tire of Natchez Tuesday.

And Titan CEO&160;Morry Taylor now says he won’t be putting that equipment – $10 million worth – into the Natchez plant.

&uot;The ones that voted to rescind (the tax exemption) can chalk their names up in the state of Mississippi as the dumbest votes that have ever been made,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;They’ve hurt everything in Natchez – the schools, the employment base – and will chase good-paying jobs away.&uot;

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Aldermen Joyce Arceneaux, George Harden and Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot;&160;West voted to rescind the tax exemption; Aldermen Sue Stedman and David Massey voted against rescinding it.

Alderman Jake Middleton was not at the meeting and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

After picketing with hand-lettered signs outside the city council chambers before the aldermen meeting began, representatives with United Steelworkers of America Local 303L told board members they wanted support from the city in their strike against Titan, which has been going on since September 1998.

&uot;We’re not asking you to take sides,&uot; Local 303L member James Washington said. &uot;We only want what’s best for ourselves and our children.&uot;

When pressed for specifics by Arceneaux, Washington said the union wanted the board to rescind the tax exemption they granted May 25. At that meeting, every board member but West voted in favor of the exemption. West abstained from voting.

On Tuesday, Arceneaux and Harden said they misunderstood the union’s position before the May vote.

&uot;If the union had said to this board that they were against the tax exemption I would have lobbied this board to vote against it,&uot; Harden said.

Union members applauded Harden’s comments.

&uot;Well, it went a little better than expected,&uot; Local 303L President Leo &uot;T-Bone&uot; Bradley said of the board’s action. &uot;All we’re interested in is don’t help a company that’s involved in a labor dispute.&uot;

Nita McCann contributed to this report.