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Chevron gets huge tax exemption on huge investment

PASCAGOULA — Jackson County supervisors have given Chevron a mega tax break on a new base oil plant that cost the company $1.56 billion.

The exemption means that instead of the Chevron refinery paying the county $14.3 million in taxes on that new piece of the refinery next year, it will pay $4.2 million. And that number will go down each year as the base oil plant depreciates.

The exemption is coming at a time when the county is wrestling with a way to fix its struggling hospital system, and just a few months ago was wondering how to come up with $2 million or $3 million to help.

The Sun Herald reports supervisors from an outgoing board put the exemption through Monday, four weeks before a new board takes office.

They didn’t wait to let the incoming board make the decision in January.

What they did was give Chevron 100 percent exemption, the maximum allowed under the law and policy for the next 10 years.

Board President Barry Cumbest said “We’re just doing it today, no particular reason. It can be done this year or next year, either one. We decided to go ahead and do it.”

Supervisors Mike Mangum said, “Normally we do it before the tax bill comes due Feb. 1.”

Supervisor Melton Harris said, “We’re under no obligation to wait.”

Passed without public discussion

It was on the consent agenda, which means the board can pass it without discussion, which it did.

The agenda item didn’t say what it was for or how much the exemption would be.

Supervisors said they made the decision without discussing the issue among themselves. “At least not more than two supervisors talking about it at a time,” Harris said.

There was no official, scheduled public discussion by the board about how it might affect the county.

The exemption was granted because the company met the county’s policy on tax exemptions, one supervisor said.

Economic Development leader George Freeland said the Economic Development Foundation helped the county see how the industry met the policy.

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