The Evangeline Parish Police Jury, in a special meeting Wednesday, voted to endorse and support proposed action taken by the Industrial Development Board in connection with Pine Prairie Energy Company.
Dr. William “Tojo” Ward, Chairman of the Industrial Development Board, told the jury that the board has voted to join Pine Prairie Energy in their legal fight against the Evangeline Parish Assessor. Dr. Ward also said the board has voted to engage the services of legal counsel, Tony Walker, to represent the board. Pine Prairie Energy has agreed to pay the board’s legal expenses.
The case in point deals with the Evangeline Parish Assessor, whose legal counsel, is alleging that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Industrial Development Board and Pine Prairie Energy to exempt the company from ad valorum property taxes for 15 years was unconstitutional.
Pine Prairie Energy was billed for 2012 taxes and the company paid the taxes under protest. Since then, Pine Prairie Energy has filed a suit against the assessor and the sheriff, the parish tax collector. That case will be heard by 13th District Court Judge Tom Fuselier.
Police Juror Eric Soileau remarked “We need to move forward and try to remove this black eye so potential industry may want to relocate here.”
Dr. Ward told the jury “This board has worked hard to promote economic activity in Evangeline Parish. Also, for two years the board has worked with Cleco who spent $100,000 to help prepare the Industrial Park as nationally certified to bring new industry to the Ville Platte area. Until this legal issue is resolved, we are dead in the water from ever attracting new industry to our parish.”
Pine Prairie Energy, located in Easton, has paid over $16 million dollars in sales and inventory taxes and pilot payments. The firm stores natural gas in underground caverns. There are currently five caverns with a potential for up to 12 caverns at the site.