April 5, 2021
A standing room only packed meeting room comprised of Cabot employees, Chamber of Commerce members and others were in attendance at Monday's meeting of the Evangeline Parish Police Jury. Most of the attention came during a public hearing that lasted 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the regular jury meeting. Cabot Corporation and their representatives were in attendance asking the police jury to grant an industrial tax exemption for a ten year period . Cabot will also be asking for similar exemptions with the School board and the sheriff's department. Cabot is a world wide company with a carbon black plant in Ville Platte.
Derrick Turner, local Cabot plant manager, explained that the company is planning major upgrades to clean up emissions and double its own power supply to help remain competitive with other carbon black plants. The project is expected to cost $147 million dollars. The work will create 15 new permanent high paying jobs.
The state has a program that allows companies like Cabot to get a break on its taxes if it reinvests the money into its operation to remain competitive.
Several jurors spoke up including Bryan Vidrine said they are undecided on the request. Jurors are facing a looming budget crisis over how to pay the huge costs to house and transport parish prisoners that are in LaSalle Parish. In the past year, the number of parish inmates have dramatically increased.
Cabot has been operating in Evangeline Parish for the past 78 years. "We need to re-invest to be able to compete with the latest technology."said Turner.
Cabot employees like Joshua Ortego spoke up. He has been an employee for the past 12 years. He said "It's a great place to work for".
Cabot Advisory Panel Members Mark Buller and Bob Manuel both spoke up in favor of the project.
However, jurors like Eric Soileau and Keith Saucier said it is a tough decision. They felt the jury is playing favorites by giving tax breaks to large corporations while not giving help to small mom and pop stores. Saucier said he has lost sleep for several nights over deciding on the request.
Gwen Fontenot spoke up in favor of the proposal. "Without Cabot and its 90 employees, we will lose a lot of Mom and Pop stores."
Café Evangeline Owner Jay Giehlow said he and his wife moved to Ville Platte to invest in a local restaurant. After working in corporate business, he said if Cabot does not get their request granted, the parent company will close the facility down then the parish will have zero tax dollars and will cause a domino effect upon the rest of the business economy.
After much discussion, the police jury voted to table any action on the request until a special meeting and public hearing could be held Wednesday April 14.
In other action, the police jury:
Heard from Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron that the parish has just about spent its entire budget allowance for inmate housing in the first three months of the year, some $300,000. The jury has a reserve to keep the parish running through the month of June.
Reappointed Felix Morein to the Te Mamou Water District Board;
Reappointed Sandra Salazar to a five year term on the parish library board;
Received word that the police jury has been awarded a $100,000 grant for new electrical improvements at Crooked Creek park.