County OK’s tax break for Cameron

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Two corporations requested property tax exemptions from the Warren County Board of Supervisors on more than $6.1 million in new equipment purchased in 2014.

Cameron Inc., parent company of the former LeTourneau Technologies oilfield fabrication yard received a personal property tax break for tax year 2015 on new equipment and machinery valued at $1,816,894, according to calculations on an application OK’d by county supervisors this week.

Cam2 International, LLC also forwarded its application for a break on more than $4.3 million in equipment bought in 2014. Cam2’s request was taken under advisement pending more information on the breakdown between personal and real property.

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Cameron purchased the former LeTourneau yard in October 2011 from Joy Global. “At that time Joy Global had scaled back their operations, Cameron came in and they determined they wanted to increase the capacity at the facility,” said Lynne Rooker of Harvest Group LLC, a Tennessee-based tax incentive negotiation firm hired by Cameron to secure the improvement-related tax break from the county.

Equipment purchased by Cameron last year is part of a continuing $41 million expansion announced by the Texas-based oilfield services company in 2012. The upgrade is still ongoing, Rooker said.

“In 2013, 100 new jobs were added and last year 90 new jobs were added,” Rooker said. “We’re still in the process of wrapping up getting machinery and equipment, so there’s still hiring to take place.”

Cameron’s exemption covers up to 10 years of ad valorem taxes due to the county, with state and school taxes excluded. The tax exemption relieves the company of $9,380 worth of taxes for 2015.

“I would like to set up a tour of the facility and to be able to sit down with management for a short period of time and to see what plans you have for the future.” Board president Bill Lauderdale said. “Warren County has pumped a lot of money into that access road down there and the water district in that area has put in some lines, so there’s been a lot of good improvements in the last several years.”

District 1 Supervisor John Arnold asked if the tax exemption would be reviewed every year, and if things changed four years down the road would the exemption still be in place.

“We’ll have a separate parcel for this equipment and they’ll still pay the school taxes, but if they remove that equipment it will just lower the value and they’ll still pay school tax on the remainder,” said John Lewis, the county’s contract appraiser for personal property.

The board has historically approved tax exemptions as long as the company qualifies.

“In the past, the board has had a blanket order that if an industry is here, and it meets the criteria of that exemption, we give it to them,” Lauderdale said. “That’s something our economic director can take to these industries when he’s talking to them and say ‘hey these guys are trying to help you out all they can.’”

“That’s one thing we give him the authority to go ahead and do if he’s working it,” he said. “The tax exemption is an incentive for businesses to upgrade or to move here.”

Supervisors took Cam2’s application under advisement because the detailed paperwork had yet to be fully completed. Tax Assessor Angela Brown said Lewis still had questions about the breakdown between real and personal property.

The exemptions, filed by businesses that have upgraded physical plants or added equipment, can apply real and/or personal property related to the improvements. Companies face a June 1 deadline to apply for the break and include some form of confirmation that it contacted the Tax Assessor’s Office.