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Local News

June 25, 2014

PACC sets July 14 for ZeoGas public hearing

PORT ARTHUR — After declining to extend a tax abatement agreement requested by ZeoGas, Port Arthur’s City Council is ready to ask the city’s residents what they think about the proposed $1.2 billion development project.

At their regular meeting Wednesday, City Council set July 14 at 6 p.m. for a public meeting to gain input from Port Arthur citizens concerning the startup company’s request for an economic incentive.

The public hearing was requested by District 5 Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis, who also requested the time be set in the evening.

Doing so would allow most working people the opportunity to come and express their opinion, Lewis said.

Six people spoke Wednesday in favor of the public hearing, including Karl Segura, senior manager of business development with Entergy.

“Opportunities like this don’t come around very often,” Segura said.

Former City Councilman Harold Doucet said he did not see the need for a public hearing because Council in the past has dealt with these type businesses without scheduling a public hearing.

Wednesday’s comments were limited to only the public hearing, and not the abatement, Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince said.

ZeoGas, a startup company that plans to convert clean natural gas into sulfur-free, low benzene gasoline, has already secured a 10-year, 100 percent abatement offer from Jefferson County. The company has requested the same deal from Port Arthur for the proposed greenfield plant.

For the last two weeks, City Council has discussed the company’s economic incentive request in closed session, but has not granted the company what it is asking for.

What Port Arthur has offered is  a 10-year agreement with a 75 percent tax abatement during construction years. Once operational, the plant would be eligible for a 90 percent abatement that would decrease to 50 percent over the course of the 10 years.

Zeo would also be eligible to receive additional incentives tied to employing local residents and using local contractors.

During construction the project is expected to generate 3,000 jobs, and 300-600 jobs upon completion. The permanent jobs would pay about $75,000 annually, Tim Belton,CEO and founder of ZeoGas, said in a previous interview.

Lewis has said the potential economic impact on the city could not be ignored.

For every 10 Port Arthur residents employed $750,000 dollars would be generated; 100 jobs would generate $7.5 million, for 300 jobs $22.5 million would be generated. Every dollar generated is estimated to turn over six times, which could lead to a $135 million economic impact in Port Arthur if 300 people from the city were employed, Lewis said.

Zeo hopes to build its plant on property owned by the Doornbos family along Savannah Avenue within the city limits. Currently the property is zoned for agriculture.

Because the land is located within the city limits, there would be no industrial agreement forged between the company and the city like those for other industry located in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Council approved the public hearing by a vote of 6-2. Voting against the measure was District 1 Councilman Raymond Scott Jr. and District 4 Councilman Steven Mosely. District 3 Councilman Morris Albright III was not in attendance.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePAnews

 

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