Local officials in Harrison County, Miss., are exploring rescinding tax breaks granted to Edison Chouest Offshore affiliate TopShip LLC for a lease agreement signed earlier this year, the SunHerald in Gulfport, Miss., reported.
In February, TopShip signed a 40-year lease to occupy the former Huntington Ingalls composite facility, acquired by the Port of Gulfport, Miss., promising to bring 1,000 full-time jobs and invest $68 million in the project. In return, the company was to receive $36 million worth of tax breaks associated with the project along with a 10-year property tax exemption estimated to be worth $450,000, and a county tax break in perpetuity on personal property shipped out of state, according to the SunHerald.
Now, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors has asked the county attorney if they can rescind the tax breaks citing incomplete information at the time they signed the memorandum of understanding approving the deal. The SunHerald reported that when the supervisors voted to approve the memorandum at a meeting in February, they didn’t have a copy of the completed document in front of them.
"If I had seen this (the MOU) I would not have voted for it," County Supervisor Marlin Ladner said in public comments published by the newspaper. "I guarantee you it will never happen again. I don't care who is coming in ... This is bull. I've got a problem with this."
The SunHerald reported that Ladner and other county officials felt that secrecy from the state and from TopShip had obscured important details of the deal, and expressed concerns about promised job creation that had not fully materialized on a similar project in Harrison County, also affiliated with Edison Chouest.