Zurik: Councilmember says city’s financial crisis will play into vote over tax exemptions

Folgers Coffee Company made improvements to their New Orleans East facilities in 2017, but delayed action on their tax exemptions for years

Zurik: Councilmember says city’s financial crisis will play into vote over tax exemptions

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council will meet on Thursday and decide whether or not to allow Folgers Coffee Company to receive tax exemptions on work that was completed years ago at their New Orleans East facilities. The company is seeking the exemptions to be retroactive, meaning the city would be out a large chunk of money during a financial crisis.

FOX 8 previously reported how the company delayed voted on the exemptions until this year, meaning no taxes have been paid on the projects.

The nationwide coffee company has facilities in Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen’s District E in New Orleans East. She said she is looking at the issue each year it has been pending and will likely vote against at least one of the years in question.

She said the city’s current financial crisis could play a large role in the vote. The city’s financial trouble has largely been brought on by the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic and has forced cuts within city hall including most employees in city government taking one furlough day each pay period.

“I think in times like this with COVID-19 with the city revenue losing out and just a lot of the issues it is really hard to issue exemptions because as we are asking citizens, residents, taxpayers to pay your share, we’ve got to ask our businesses as well,” Nguyen said.

“I think we’ve been good to Folgers. I think we’ve embraced them and they’ve embraced us. I think we have benefitted from each other for several years,” Nguyen said.

The councilmember was asked if the city can afford to allow the exemptions, to which she responded simply, “No.”

But Nguyen said she was meeting with people on all sides of the issue -- supporters of Folgers, the company, and those against the exemptions. She said her mind was not made up on all of the exemptions because the city also has to send a welcoming message for businesses who will be looking for exemptions in the recovery after COVID-19.

FOX 8 reported Tuesday the City of New Orleans is also investigating what they call ‘discrepancies’ in values quoted on city permit applications and applications for the delayed tax exemptions. That could also equal more money due to the city.

The New Orleans City Council will meet on the Folgers exemptions during their virtual meeting on Thursday at 10 a.m. Council Vice President Helena Moreno has introduced resolutions and will ask the council to reject the retroactive exemptions to Folgers. The Orleans Parish School Board took similar action on the issue on Tuesday.

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