Rentech gets tax break

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NATCHEZ — The county board of supervisors unanimously approved a tax exemption for Rentech Monday morning.

Under the exemption — which still must be OKed by the state and the local tax assessor — Rentech will pay one third of the property taxes owed in the form of a fee.

The tax break is effective for the next 10 years.

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The fee will be divided among all county entities that normally receive property tax revenues — the schools, Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the county among others.

“This is a major indicator that the (Rentech) project is under way,” board President Darryl Grennell said. “It’s another step to say the project is moving forward.”

The special exemption is allowed for in state law, but only for projects with a value of over $100 million.

A standard tax break would have meant the county received no funds at all from Rentech. Under state law, the one third paid would have had to go to the school district.

“The direct benefit to Rentech is it reduces the overall tax burden,” Rentech Project Manager Joe Regnery said. “That’s a tremendous asset to us in moving forward in Adams County.”

Attorney John Fletcher of Jackson law firm Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis spoke to the board on behalf of Rentech. The request for the exemption was presented to board members several weeks ago, but Fletcher presented some changes Monday.

“There’s nothing exotic about this,” Fletcher said after the meeting. “It’s part of the legislative package of what we have to offer (industries.)”

Grennell said it’s common for the county to offer tax breaks to industry, and that the investment will pay off in the long run.

“As a result they provide jobs to the community,” he said. “It has a positive domino effect.”

Regnery said Rentech still plans to sign for the purchase of the International Paper land on April 1. They’ll begin demolition and construction shortly after that.

The exemption request comes on the heels of an announcement by Rentech to proceed with the Natchez project before working on a planned facility in East Dubuque, Ill.

In other business at Monday’s supervisor’s meeting:

4The county approved a request from Extension Service Director David Carter to hire a 4H director. The office already has an associate director. The position will be funded entirely by Mississippi State University.

4The county approved the construction of a new bridge at Garden City Road, near the Franklin County line. A forestry grant will pay for the bridge at no cost to the county.

4 The board presented Supervisor Sammy Cauthen with a resolution thanking him for his service to the county. Cauthen will leave office at the end of the month after serving multiple terms. Mike Lazarus will replace him.