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Caterpillar denied tax exemption

There won’t be any more tax breaks for Caterpillar in Lafayette County.

Attorney Jason Hollingsworth went before the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors Monday seeking a five-year extension of Caterpillar’s existing tax exemption with the county in the amount of $105,963. Caterpillar also sought tax exemption in the amount of $1,587.49 for personal property.

The board denied both requests.

Caterpillar announced in April that the Oxford facility would be one of five in the United States that will be closing. The plant, which opened in 1997 and manufactures hose couplings, is expected to close by the end of 2017 and the region will lose 240 jobs.

Supervisor Kevin Frye told Hollingsworth that he personally could not vote for a tax exemption for a company that is closing its doors.

“My position is that we grant tax exemptions for businesses who are contributing to the tax base,” Frye said. “Obviously, we all know Caterpillar has made an announcement they’re not going to be here going forward. It would be my position that we not grant any further tax abatements for that reason.”

Hollingsworth said the tax exemption would be just for the duration Caterpillar remained in Lafayette County and reminded the board that Caterpillar has been contributing to the community for nearly 20 years.

“Things could change and nobody knows what could happen in the future,” Hollingsworth said. “Caterpillar is currently ongoing in this community and has been for a considerable amount of time and I would ask that you take that into consideration.”

Board president Jeff Busby asked Hollingsworth if “they may not pull out,” and Hollingsworth said he was not saying that at all.

“I’m just saying that I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hollingsworth said.

Frye told Hollingsworth that if circumstances change and Caterpillar remains in the county through 2020, he would “happily entertain a new request.”

“I can’t guarantee Caterpillar is going to be here through 2020, but what I can guarantee is that after one year of the plant’s cessation of operations, the tax exemption is void,” Hollingsworth said. “And that if in some point in the future if Caterpillar wished to resume operations here, they would have to reapply.”

Frye made a motion to deny both requests and Supervisor Chad McLarty quickly seconded. The vote was unanimous.