Harrison County denies tax break for Chemours

Harrison County denies tax break for Chemours

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Tax exemptions for industry sparked debate once again for Harrison County supervisors at Monday's board meeting.

With a tie vote, the board denied the renewal of a tax break for Chemours, the former Dupont Delisle plant.

Chemours was seeking the renewal of a so-called Freeport warehouse exemption, which would waive the personal property taxes on products the company ships elsewhere.

"They ship over 99 percent of their product leaves the State of Mississippi. Under this statute, as long as they ship over 50 percent of their product out, the can get the exemption. They can qualify for the exemption," Harrison County Development Commission Director Bill Hessell told the supervisors.

Chemours provides about 1,000 jobs at its local plant. Last summer, it expanded its silo operations at the Port of Gulfport.

The requested tax exemption would total about $100,000 a year.

"We export approximately 60 percent of our product overseas. We were spun off from Dupont July 1 of 2015. So, this would be a continuance of similar exemptions we had and enjoyed in the past," said Mark Smith, with Chemours.

Supervisor Connie Rockco pointed to the growing expenses the county faces. Can it afford to dole out such tax breaks?

"Because of the expenses we're incurring, we want to go to full-time for our fire service, and we don't have the funds for that," Rockco told fellow supervisors.

"A lot of their market is overseas stuff. So, they've got competitors out there, and this makes them competitive and allows them to keep those thousand people working for them," said Hessell.

Rockco said she'd like to see a review of the entire tax exemption policy. Why not consider, for example, a graduated system whereby companies earn more tax exemptions the longer they operate in the county?

"Just like to revisit it. Take a closer look at it during the budget hearings and see if we can move forward," Rockco explained.

With Supervisor Marlin Ladner absent, the resulting tie vote on the tax exemption meant denial.

Chemours will be allowed to renew the request when the full board is present.

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