Aeroframe to ask school board for tax exemption

Future of Aeroframe may be in school board's hands

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - President and CEO of Aeroframe in Lake Charles, Roger Porter, will make his case to the Calcasieu Parish School Board on Tuesday, pleading for a tax exemption.

Aeroframe currently leases its facility from the Chennault International Airport Authority. Chennault's executive director, Randy Robb, said the school board's decision on Tuesday may mean whether or not Aeroframe remains in Lake Charles.

"The school board is asking for a two percent sales tax," explained Robb. "Aeroframe is doing well and has done well and can meet 100 percent of their payroll, but they wouldn't be able to pay that tax."

All of this comes as a 10-year tax exemption will expire this month. Recently, Aeroframe proposed a one-year exemption from the city followed by an escalating tax, allowing time to solicit investors rather than a cold turkey implementation of the tax. Robb said that's the agreement Aeroframe presented to a school board budget committee which was struck down in an 11-2 vote.

Karl Bruchhaus, the Chief Financial Officer for the school board, said initially he and the staff decided not to pursue the renewal.

"We weren't pursuing anything. Then they approached us with the five year plan and we presented that to the budget committee. They decided not to approve that," Bruchhaus said.

The minutes from that meeting will go before the school board on Tuesday for a final decision.

"It's going to the board with no recommendation," said Bruchhaus. "So a member will have to motion to approve the plan for it to be approved."

Bruchhaus said two main considerations have played roles in the school board's decision to take no action.

"When this exemption was granted 10 years ago, it was to help a business start up. The 10 years would pass and it would expire," he said. "Also the board is very concerned with our budget this year."

But Robb said implementing the tax wouldn't help the boards budgetary concerns.

"Aeroframe employs nearly 400 people. Those people and their families pay taxes," Robb said. "All that is in jeopardy with this decision."

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