Jury Changes Vote on Tax Breaks

By Bonnie Culverhouse

With one member absent, the Webster Parish Police Jury voted 11-0 Tuesday to change their minds about allowing tax exemptions to a new company.

“I voted not to exempt E.I. Williams at the last meeting,” Jury President Jim Bonsall said. “Since then, consequences of our vote have come to light.”

At the last police jury meeting, Canada-based E. I. Williams, a manufacturing company with a new facility located in the North Webster Industrial District, requested a five year-tax break.

“We would give them an 80 percent break for five years,” Juror Bruce Blanton said at a special meeting of the jury’s Economic Development committee. “That’s 20 percent for us. It’s new money not in our budget.”

If the jury does not grant an extension after five years, they will receive the entire amount.

E. I. Williams manufactures silencers and mufflers for generators. Thus far, they have hired around 18 people, however, their goal is 100 jobs and a payroll of $4.1 million.

John Tsertos with E.I. Williams said he feels strongly his company can achieve that goal.

“We just added two more employees,” he said. “These are good solid-paying jobs. These are skilled work people – welders. We pay them whatever the prevailing rates are.”

While no one can predict the economy, Tsertos said E.I. Williams is on pace not only to achieve their 100-job goal but possibly exceed it.

“I think we will be expanding in five years,” he said.

Tsertos said NWID it is a great distribution location for his company.

While Minden’s Fibrebond is their largest client in the area, Tsertos said they have others across the country and into Mexico.

Ashley Busada with North Louisiana Economic Partnership said E.I. Williams wanted to come to the area because of Fibrebond, but there were other factors involved.

“When they first came, we showed them nine sites,” Busada said. “From Shreveport all the way to Monroe. They chose NWID, and we fixed them up with local contractors and banks.”

Busada said economic development is competitive, and companies are looking for incentives.

The jury needed 8 votes to bring the subject back for a vote, however, all the jurors voted yes, with the exception of Bernard Hudson who was absent.

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