Cameron LNG, parish officials agree on PILOT deal
CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - When it comes to mega-industrial projects in Southwest Louisiana, many people want to know, "What's in it for me?"
In the case of Cameron LNG in Hackberry, the company has agreed to pay millions of dollars early - instead of when property taxes come due. The deal must still be approved by various public bodies in the parish.
One way the state lures big industries to Louisiana is by providing various tax breaks. One is the 10-year industrial tax exemption which means payment of property taxes is delayed 10 years from once the plant begins operating.
But in Cameron Parish, officials have successfully negotiated a deal with Cameron LNG in Hackberry to get funds before taxes would be due. It's called a PILOT or "payment in lieu of taxes."
Cameron Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque said it could mean money up front that the parish can really use.
"Throughout the life of the PILOT agreement, we're talking about a half a billion dollars. We're talking $500 million, all total. The infrastructure opportunities that we have to pursue now, all it's going to do is diversify our tax base, increase our tax base, improve our quality of life. It's things that we have been working in here in Cameron post-Rita and Ike and to be so close makes me a little bit excited," said Bourriaque.
He said the agreement has been two years in the making and is twice more than what Cameron LNG first offered. The deal only goes through if the taxing bodies involved approve.
Cameron School superintendent Charles Adkins said, if approved by the school board, the school district will no longer have to use reserves to balance the budget.
"It has the potential to make us whole and plug the holes in the budget and to allow us to deliver the same level of services that we're delivering currently, even though we've made a lot of cuts in the last two years,"said Adkins.
He said the system's $7 million yearly shortfall is because a property tax renewal failed a few years ago. He said if nothing changes, the reserve will be depleted in 2026.
It's expected to take a couple of weeks for the agreement with Cameron LNG to be presented to all the local taxing districts in Cameron Parish.
Each taxing district affected will have to adopt a resolution supporting the agreement. None will be forced to participate.
Bourriaque said it's a done deal once the agreement is validated by the State District Court judge in Cameron Parish.
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