The Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry last week put off a vote on a controversial request by Marathon Oil for a property tax abatement under the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program, or ITEP, amid questions about the company’s application.
The BC&I decided after a heated and lengthy discussion at the more than six-hour meeting to defer action on the request by Marathon, which advocacy organizations allege appears to have falsified its ITEP application in order to skirt rules that threatened the company’s likelihood of securing the 10-year, $43 million property tax abatement.
Marathon has denied the allegation and says it followed state regulations.
“Who changed Marathon’s advance notice to try to get them $43 million in taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled?” Together Louisiana organizer Broderick Bagert says. “At whose direction was the change made? Who inside of LED knew about and approved it?”
At the meeting, LED officials made no admission of error or worse, but said they would look into the irregularity.
“LED will analyze the ITEP application in question and address issues appropriately so that the board may make its determination,” LED spokesman Gary Perilloux says.
Counters Bagert: “We do not have confidence LED can investigate itself on this.”
The discussion was part of a meeting to consider some $1.8 billion in requests for corporate incentives.
(Full disclosure: Manny Fajardo, a member of the state Board of Commerce and Industry, is an employee of Louisiana Business Inc., parent company of 10/12 Industry Report. He did not attend the meeting referenced in this story.)