Board approves tax exemption years after ribbon cutting

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors approved an ad valorem tax exemption for Shale Support Services for 2015, 2016 and 2017 during Wednesday’s Board meeting.
Board President Sandy Kane Smith voted against the measure, noting the company has been in Picayune for a couple of years and didn’t request government help in the past.
The company opened a global headquarters and a mining/processing plant in Picayune’s Industrial Park in 2015 where sand is processed for use in the oil industry.
“We supply a number of markets, one of which is the oil and gas market, which had a tough time in 2016,” Shale Support Services President Jeff Bartlam said in a phone interview on Thursday. “We’re struggling to maintain viability and profitability.”
The company applied for exemptions dating back to Jan. 3, 2015 and going forward nine years, District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry said during the Board meeting.
Perry said the company provided about 47 new jobs and millions in salaries to the county.
“Their business depends on the oil and gas industry, which has been down for the past couple years,” Perry said.
“It’s not like they’re in competition with somebody else here we’re not doing it for,” Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said.
Despite previous complaints from surrounding residents about the construction of the facility, District I Supervisor Donald Hart said the county should grant their request to show its accessibility and availability.
Because the county has no zoning ordinances, Smith said the Board couldn’t stop the company from building the facility.
Perry made a motion to grant the company’s request through 2017, with continuing discussions to be held next year, depending on the success of the oil industry.
Smith was the only Board member to vote against the measure.
Bartlam said the company also reached out to Hancock County, where they have another facility, and the city of Picayune for similar exemptions.
Pearl River County Tax Assessor Gary Beech said the company still has to go through a multistep process to finalize the exemption, which will be assessed on its personal property, or movable items like equipment and machinery.
Beech said the company will still pay real property taxes on the land and permanent structures.
In the past, the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property taxes, Beech said.
Bartlam declined to comment on the amount of savings his company would see from the exemption, but said the savings would be used for future reinvestment in the county as well as compensation for downfalls in the oil industry.
“It’s a two-edged sword,” Beech said. “Because you have existing businesses who are paying taxes who do not get an exemption, but on the other hand this is something that we’re getting in the oil industry, in the service part of it. We don’t have a big industry here in the county, but we probably could.”
The Board is coordinating with other community groups to promote economic development and establish a county-led organization to encourage more industry and businesses in the county, previous coverage states.
While debating this issue at Wednesday’s Board meeting, members referenced that goal.
“It shows the attitude of the local government,” and their willingness to work with companies, Beech said.
“We’re very appreciative of the support, from Picayune and Hancock and Pearl River counties,” Bartlam said, adding that he looks forward to continuing partnerships and expansion.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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