Two Of Folgers Tax Break Proposals Were Denied, While Decisions on Four of Them Were Deferred

Source: Jon Turnipseed, WVUE-TV

Through the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Folgers is filing for a tax break for projects they delayed paying taxes on for the last 2 years through bureaucratic maneuverings. 

City council members met today to discuss whether they would approve the tax break for Folgers. They all agreed that more money should be funneled into New Orleans public safety ventures, so giving the tax break was not a priority for any of them.

However, what they disagreed on was whether the tax break should be voted on today or in a month. Jay H. Banks and Cyndi Nguyen were the most vocal about waiting to vote on the tax break. 

In particular, councilmember Jay H. Banks voiced concern over the fact that the numbers have greatly differed from source to source reporting on how much money Folgers owes. What he was acknowledging was how Together New Orleans originally reported it was $12 million that Folgers owed only to backtrack and say it was closer to $4 million. 

Councilmember Helena Moreno retorted that it didn’t matter how much it money was, New Orleans could not afford to give any sum away when it just had furloughed 4,000+ city employees. 

Not to mention Folgers only created 27 jobs. She quipped, “They may have only created 27 jobs from their project but hired just as many lobbyists” to convince them to vote for the tax break. 

Folgers has tax breaks on two-thirds of their property being the largest ITEP recipient in the city. They have received more than $120 million in tax breaks between 2000 to 2017

The Orleans Parish School Board voted all 6 applications down in their committee meeting the other day, stressing the fact that they can’t afford to lose any more funding in the wake of a pandemic and recession. 

Helena Moreno said, “I’m very much about creating a favorable business environment in this city, but not to the point where the people of this city are being taken advantage of.” She cited the fact that Folgers couldn’t even meet the job requirement included in ITEP applications, which just stipulated companies applying should have created at least 15 jobs at $18 an hour from their tax-exempt project. 

Jay H. banks responded that he still wanted to delay the votes because “Until I have the opportunity to view the information I will not sign off on it… All of these property exemptions need to be looked at…. Whatever decisions we make needs to be made from a place of knowledge instead of emotion.” However, he did make it clear that he is not a fan of ITEP, and would likely not vote in favor of the tax breaks at their future meeting. 

The council decided to defer voting on 4 of Folgers proposals until their meeting next month on January 14. The 2 other proposals were rejected in the meeting. They also decided with a unanimous vote that all funds from denying the tax breaks will go towards furloughed public safety workers. 

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