Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Industries report big dollars being brought to county

Golden Triangle Polymers, the Chevron Phillips chemical plant under construction, spent $39.3 million dollars locally in the first quarter of 2024.

The report given to Orange County Commissioners Court Tuesday is part of the requirement for the new plant's tax abatement with the county for the $8.5 billion petrochemical plant between Highway 87 South and FM 1006, known as Chemical Row.

And in a separate report, Jefferson Energy Terminal along the Neches River side of the county claimed $1 billion in property improvements as that company finished its tenth, and last report, for a tax abatement contract ten years ago.

The county's contracts with the corporations to grant property tax abatements, included the company making reports. The reports, compiled by the corporations, give commissioners and the public a look at how much money the projects are bringing to the community and how many jobs they are providing.

For a half century, tax abatement agreements have been popular across the United States as a way for cities, counties, and states to attract new business and industry investments. Those agreements let the new business or industry contract with the entities to give tax break cuts for certain periods. The concept is those new businesses or industries will increase tax income by providing jobs and adding to the permanent property values for future full taxes.

However, in recent years, the tax abatements have come under some criticism that the businesses and industries do not end up providing as much as the tax breaks they have received.

Heather Betancourt, the public liaison for Golden Triangle Polymers, gave the report on the new plant. According to her information, the new plant has spent $312.1 million locally since the tax abatement contract started in October 2022.

So far for the first quarter of this year, the project has a total of 225 local job hirings, with 207 of those jobs by the contractors. The contractors include engineering, procurement, and construction companies for Golden Triangle Polymers.

The project's grand total of local employment since late 2022 is now at 1,183.

Golden Triangle Polymers reports include lists of smaller vendors across Orange County that are doing business with the company and contractors. Those businesses include locally-owned and operated restaurants, pest control, photographers, auto supply companies, printing companies and office supply companies.

Chris Robbins, chief financial officer for Jefferson Energy, gave the company's annual report for its tax abatement contract. Jefferson Energy, an oil refinery, built the port and loading facilities along with storage tanks, on the Orange County west bank of the Neches River.

The property now has barge docks, ship docks, rail tracks, some 30 heated and unheated storage tanks for crude and refined products. In addition, the property has the Southern State Pipeline linked to Motiva and the Cross Channel Pipeline linked to Exxon. The report said the property improvements are valued at $1 billion. The company now has 174 full-time employees from Orange and adjacent counties.

In other business, Commissioners Court approved payments to non-profit groups of $2,500 to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and $10,000 to the Julie Rogers Gift of Life program. County Judge John Gothia said the amounts were both approved by the court for the 2023-24 fiscal year and the checks to the groups are now being sent.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan said he thinks the court should give more money to CASA because the group saves the county money. Volunteers at CASA receive special training to help represent children in court as they go through legal proceedings by child protective services.

Approved bill payments included $82,630 from the general fund for the monthly payment for group insurance benefits for county retirees age 65 and older, plus $5,750 from the general fund to Claybar Funeral Home for indigent funeral expenses.

The court agreed to a minor plat for Pinehurst DG, a 2.83 acre tract of land off Highway 62 south of Interstate 10 and in Precinct 2. The plat has been approved by the Orange County Drainage District and the city of Orange. The property is within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city.

Another minor plat approved is for the Mattox Addition in the Josiah Brick Survey in Precinct 2. The 2.96 acre plat has been reviewed by the drainage district.

As hurricane season approaches, the court gave the county purchasing agent permission to see bids for providing food services in case of an emergency disaster. The food services are for county deputies, officials, road and bridge crews, and other county employees needed immediately after a disaster hits.


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