Loren Scott letter: Together Baton Rouge says ExxonMobil not doing enough; here are the facts

My latest report on the economic impact of ExxonMobil’s four facilities indicates the company employs 6,915 employees and contract workers at an average wage of $74,158 a year — 51 percent above the average wage in East Baton Rouge Parish. For the last 10 years, the company has invested in excess of $250 million a year in capital spending at these plants. Taking into account the multiplier effect, every 10th job in the parish can be traced back to these four plants. Yet, Together Baton Rouge says ExxonMobil is not doing enough.

In 2017, ExxonMobil paid East Baton Rouge Parish $32.7 million in property taxes, two and a half times more than the 2nd ranked payer, Entergy. No other company in the state writes out a check that large to a parish government. In second place is Entergy, paying St. Charles Parish a much lower $20.1 million. But TBR says ExxonMobil is not doing enough.

Adding in direct and indirect sales taxes generated through the multiplier effect, ExxonMobil produced $88.5 million for our local government — enough money to pay the salaries of 58 percent of the public school teachers in the parish. As a result, depending on what ranking you use, our schoolteacher pay ranks between 11th and 16th in the state. But TBR says ExxonMobil is not doing enough.

In 2017, ExxonMobil and its employees contributed $1.4 million to our United Way, about 14 percent of UW’s total collections and the largest from any entity in the region. The ExxonMobil Foundation contributed $1.1 million to LSU and Southern universities last year, and the company and its employees and retirees contributed $4 million to Baton Rouge area nonprofits and schools. But TBR says ExxonMobil is not doing enough.

TBR points out that ExxonMobil’s Joliet Refinery in Illinois receives no property tax breaks. The Joliet Refinery is half the size of Baton Rouge’s. Would TBR like to take all the numbers in the previous four paragraphs and cut them in half?

TBR says the company’s refineries in Texas pay more in property taxes. The refineries in Texas did not have to write out a check for $17.5 million in corporate income taxes like ExxonMobil did in Louisiana in 2016. In addition to no income tax, Texas has a unified sales tax collection, does not tax manufacturing utilities, does not tax manufacturing equipment, does not tax manufacturing inputs, has significantly lower local sales tax rates, and has a much higher ranking in education, roads and legal environment. But the “economists” with TBR say we do not need the industrial tax exemption to compete with Texas.

The Baton Rouge debate pushed by TBR can create a precedent for every parish with industrial facilities.

If TBR prevails, prepare for the poor in our community becoming much worse off.

LOREN SCOTT

economist

Baton Rouge

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