GONZALES — Local representatives of Methanex corporation made their case Tuesday to the Ascension Parish School Board for an industrial tax exemption for a possible $1 billion methanol plant in Geismar.
Glynn Fontenot, manager of Methanex's current plant in Geismar, told the board the Vancouver-based company is looking at two possibilities for a new methanol plant: at its site in Geismar or at its site in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
"A big part of that decision is ITEP," Fontenot said, referring to the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) in Louisiana.
Under new state regulations, all of the major taxing bodies in a parish must agree to the tax relief, which if awarded in full, exempts a manufacturer from 100 percent of property taxes for five years, then 80 percent of property taxes for three years.
The new plant would bring at least 25 permanent jobs if it comes to Geismar, Fontenot said.
"Ninety-seven percent of our employees were hired locally," Fontenot said of the Geismar site, which he said has 168 employees, with the average annual base salary of $80,000.
The school district could see a direct benefit of $85.2 million to $136.6 million, depending on the plant's construction cost, in projected sales and property tax collections over the next 30 to 40 years, said Greta Gordon, finance manager for the Methanex plant in Geismar.
In return, Methanex would be exempted from $53.8 million to $86 million in property taxes to the School Board, she said. But that exemption relies on approval by the Parish Council and Sheriff's Office for any taxes they would receive from the plant.
Methanex would begin construction of its new plant, whether in Geismar or Medicine Hat, in mid-2019 and it would go into operation in 2023.
Methanex, the world's largest producer and supplier of methanol, already has two methanol plants at its Geismar site.
The local Methanex representatives also presented their information Monday to the Ascension Parish Council Finance Committee.
No action was taken by the School Board at the meeting Tuesday because it was the non-voting meeting-of-the-whole.