Boards support LAEL request

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 15, 2010

VIDALIA — Votes by local boards gave their endorsements for Louisiana Elastomer to receive state tax breaks in an effort to continue economic expansion in the area.

“We felt it would be in the best interest of the parish, so we passed a resolution in support of them getting all of the benefits they can from the state,” Concordia Parish Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said.

The company has requested a 4 percent sales tax rebate from the state through the Quality Jobs program and has asked Louisiana Economic Development for an industrial property tax exemption.

While the incentive package would have allowed LAEL to seek exemptions from the hospital district tax and non-restricted tax revenues from the City of Vidalia, which has annexed the LAEL property, the company chose not to pursue those options.

“The local rebate is not a deal breaker for our expansion,” LAEL CEO D. Michael Wells said in a news release. “We understand that the local government is under the same economic distress as private business and we did not want to collect a sales tax rebate that could be used to continue the operations and special projects of the City of Vidalia and the Parish of Concordia.”

The Police Jury had previously declined to vote in support of the incentive package, but earlier this week changed their minds.

The jury had been initially hesitant to vote in favor of the incentives because they were unclear specifically what was being asked of them, Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said.

“We wanted some clarifications on exactly what we had to offer and exactly what they were asking the local government for,” Ferrington said. “After a couple of meetings we got to that, and we were all in agreement.”

While the fact that LAEL had unpaid vendors in the area was brought up at the meeting in which the jury decided not to pass the letter of support, Ferrington said that was not a determining factor in their decision at that time.

Following the meetings, LAEL decided to remove any request for local incentives from the proposal.

The City of Vidalia also passed a resolution in support of LAEL at it’s meeting Tuesday.

Because the property LAEL has been located on was annexed by the city, Ferrington said the jury didn’t have much incentive to offer them anyway.

“I have got to take hats off to LAEL because they didn’t want to disturb the local governments,” he said.

Ferrington said he believes the matter with the vendors is being addressed.

LAEL opened its first Vidalia rubber recycling facility in 2009, and in January announced it would build a second facility that would be used to manufacture chemicals used in the recycling process.