LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish School Board on Tuesday voted 9-4 to approve a 10-year sales and use tax abatement for AAR.
The company will now seek the same approval from the City of Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.
Company officials say a 10-year tax abatement from the City of Lake Charles, the Calcasieu Parish School Board and Sheriff's Office would allow AAR to keep their overhead costs low when attracting new clients.
In May, the school board rejected Aeroframe's request for an extension of an identical 10-year tax abatement.
Last month, AAR received its FAA approval toward becoming a fully-operational Maintenance and Repair Operation (MRO) in Lake Charles at its facility at Chennault.
Tuesday's board decision was debated heavily. The board is currently in a $13 million dollar deficit.
"It's unpopular to not be for this. I understand where you gentleman are coming from, I'd be doing the same thing if I was in your business over there. But, I just can't see us being in a deficit and maybe having to lay off people, close schools and turn around and give sales tax away," said member Jim Schooler.
Fellow CPSB member Randall Burleigh said, "You know, I don't have a crystal ball, but the economy in Southwest Louisiana in the next couple of year is getting ready to change drastically. If half of what's being proposed comes, and I really believe strongly that it will looking at the information that I've been looking at for the last five years. So, I'm definitely going on record as strongly suggesting we pass this."
Danny Martinez, vice president of technical services at AAR, said he feels the abatement can only benefit Southwest Louisiana.
"It just supports what we already decided and have modeled for this community, so I think it's very positive," he said.
"It isn't not unreasonable to think that other companies are going to look at where AAR does business and they will be looking at Lake Charles and southwest Louisiana when they may have never thought to look here before," said Charles Dalgleish, of Chennault International Airport.