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PetCoke says pay to be $850,000

[9/28/04]A new industry is looking to build at the harbor here and is asking Vicksburg and Warren County to help by exempting $10 million in improvements from property taxes.

DTE PetCoke LLC., is proposing to build a facility on the E.W. Haining Industrial Center.

The company will process barge shipments of petroleum coke, an industrial fuel. According to the proposal submitted to Warren County supervisors, the facility will operate 24 hours a day and employ 11 people with an estimated annual payroll of about $850,000.

Supervisors discussed the tax exemption request Monday, but took no action during their informal weekly meeting.

“There’s a possibility they could get a tax exemption, but there’s no way I’ll vote for anything until something is built,” said District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon.

Randy Sherard, board attorney, said that he spoke to a representative of the company who said construction would not begin until 2005. Sherard also said that DTE PetCoke is also seeking state financing for the project and is seeking tax exemptions from the county and city as part of that financing package.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said he has not seen a request for the tax exemptions, but that a presentation is to be made at next week’s city board meeting about the project.

Supervisors indicated that they would be willing to adopt a resolution of intent to offer tax exemptions, but would not commit to an exact figure until after the company makes a full application and completes work.

“We just want to make sure that everything is in order and at this point it doesn’t appear to be,” said District 2 Supervisor Michael Mayfield.

DTE PetCoke is a subsidiary of DTE Energy of Detroit, which also owns Detroit Edison, the nation’s seventh-largest electric utility, supplying energy to 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, according to the company Web site.

If approved for the tax exemption on the full $10 million, the company would save about $102,660 in taxes to the city and county combined each year for up to 10 years. Even with the exemption, DTE PetCoke would still have to pay about $73,455 annually in school taxes on the proposed improvements.

Tax exemptions for new or expanding industrial employers were created in Mississippi in the 1950s as inducements to attract jobs.