No tax exemption for Aeroframe

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Pretty much every time you buy something in Calcasieu Parish, you pay a 2 percent sales tax that goes to the Calcasieu Parish School Board.

But not everybody pays.

For a decade, Aeroframe did not pay as part of a tax incentive plan, but the 10-year deal is up and Aeroframe said it needs the tax credit extended.

At the CPSB meeting on Tuesday, the company got its answer. The panel voted against the tax extension in a nine to five vote.

"Everybody wants good public education, but no one wants to pay for it. Everybody's wanting exemptions and what not," said CPSB member Joe Andrepont.

Andrepont was against the tax exemption extension for Aeroframe.

"The last several years, we've been hit with hard times," Andrepont said.

He said the school board is facing a deficit near $13 million in the upcoming fiscal year, and the tax exemption would not help the school system get back on track financially.

According to Aeroframe CEO Roger Porter, Aeroframe is trying to fix their financial problems as well.

"We've had losses the last two years, so margins are negative. Not positive," Porter said.

Now, he's asking for help.

"We're not looking for a handout. If you can't afford to do it, I understand that. I appreciate it, but will tell you this, it's tough. It's tough to compete right now," Porter said to the CPSB members.

The school board understands. After the past two years of fighting for public education in the area and the state, they know times are hard. But dealing with a deficit and the idea of 10 years without any tax revenue from Aeroframe, that's $600,000 each year, is something the school board cannot afford to miss out on.

"When we are confronted with that kind of money and that kind of deficit, that means a loss of jobs for our system as well," Andrepont explained.

"Not having an assurances of what can happen down the line, I cannot in good conscience, after seeing 10 years of what we granted when times were good, vote for this amendment," he said.

Aeroframe may lose jobs because of finances, but Porter said the company isn't going anywhere.

"I'm here and I'm part of this community now. And I want to be here," Porter said.

And he will, just without any tax exemptions from the CPSB.

Aeroframe currently has close to 400 employees.

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