The Washington Parish Council met Monday (December 12, 2022) evening to address a full Agenda. Dominating the meeting was Agenda Item # 9, “Discuss and take appropriate action concerning Industrial Tax Exemption Program Application-Project ID 20210366-ITE (Bogalusa West PVI, LLC). The Council's Attorney Wayne Kuhn characterized the matter as “the most significant financial decision” made by the Washington Parish Council.
At issue was whether or not to grant an Industrial Tax Exemption to a solar project by Bogalusa West PVI, LLC north of Bogalusa on approximately 2800 acres of 112,000 acres owned by Weyerhaeuser in the Parish.
Due diligence was given the matter. (See the video below, beginning at 6:40) The Council heard from representatives of Savion, one of the country’s largest and most technologically advanced utility-scale solar and energy storage project development companies in the U.S. and a Shell Group portfolio company. The Council also heard from numerous parish residents, most of whom were opposed to granting the ITC. Questions were asked and answered, projections were made and disputed, and the pros and cons were discussed concerning the potentially tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue involved. Would denying the ITC deprive the Parish of a substantial opportunity? Would the project proceed without the ITC? In the bigger picture, is solar projects good for our Parish or a disruption to our way of life? Well, solar is apparently here to stay and regulating and managing it is the best we can do.
In the end, the Council voted to deny the ITC. Click here for a recent related article and video and click here for more related stories and video regarding the solar issue
In other business, the Council
- approved the 2023 Annual Operating Budget and the Capital Outlay Budget for the Washington Parish Government
- approved the contract for disaster debris monitoring and management services
- introduced an ordinance establishing a four-way traffic stop at the intersection of Frankie Miller Road and Bill Simmons Road
- approved resolutions authorizing the Parish President to sign intergovernmental agreements to assist the Village of Varnado, the City of Bogalusa, the Town of Franklinton, and the Village of Angie with skilled labor and mechanized equipment towards driveway, parking area, road rehabilitation, drainage and flood control
- approved appointments to the Washington Parish Fire District No. 1 Board of Directors, the Washington Parish Tourism Commission Board of Directors, the Washington Parish Planning Commission Board of Directors, the Mt. Hermon Water District Board of Directors, and the Washington Parish Fire District No. 7. Board of Directors
The President's Report begins at 1:49:55
Parish President Thomas announced that notice has been received from the National Weather Service that Washington Parish is recognized as “Storm Ready”. Washington Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Bobby Joe Breland added more information and that Washington Parish is one of the 24 of 64 Louisiana parishes to receive the recognition.
President Thomas expressed his appreciation to the voters for approving the renewal of a tax to meet State mandated expenses.
President Thomas and Public Works Director also commented on the improved financial status of the Parish, in contrast to other parishes.