Expand tax abatement to attract jobs to Port Arthur

Published 3:39 pm Monday, June 8, 2015

We agree with Port Arthur’s city manager and the executive director of the Economic Development Corporation, making some changes to the city’s tax abatement policy could help Port Arthur attract manufacturing businesses.
The current tax abatement policy is geared toward attracting new or expanding industrial firms, principally in the petrochemical industry. And to qualify for abatement, the investment must be very large — $100 million is the bottom of the scale. Under tax abatement, all or a portion of a firm’s property taxes are forgiven for a period of time as a way to attract a new business or help a business get on its feet financially as it begins operation.
Tax abatement does shift taxes to other taxpayers for a period of time. But arguments can be made that abatement shifts taxes the city’s wouldn’t have received if the company had not chosen to locate in Port Arthur and that putting Port Arthur people to work helps strengthen the overall economy of the city, making more tax revenue available.
Port Arthur needs to diversify its economy, which is now very dependent on the petrochemical industry. And as the price of oil remains low on the world market, oil companies are slowing their investments in drilling and exploration, and refining investments are being carefully scrutinized.
We encourage the council to put a tax abatement policy in place that will help attract manufacturing firms that want to invest amounts even as low as $1 million if they will put Port Arthur people to work. When the abatement term is over then Port Arthur will have both the tax revenue and the jobs. That’s what we call win-win.