The complaint argued that Rockwool`s payment in place of taxes (PILOT) agreement with the state was unconstitutional. Judge David Hammer said Friday that he could not rule on the issue because PILOTE was only a proposal and not a binding agreement. Under the so-called “PILOT” tax-exempt agreement, approved by the Commissioners, Roxuls includes tax breaks in counties and municipalities – which do not include other tax breaks and about $15 million in infrastructure spending by West Virginia Commerce Department officials – 130 hectares of land the company is buying for about $75 million at the 400-hectare Jefferson Orchard site next to Route 900 in Ranson. Reisenweber said. “There were so many lawyers dealing with this agreement that my head was turning,” said John Reisenweber, executive director of the Jefferson County Economic Development Authority, which presented the agreement to commissioners. “There`s been a lot of legal audits.” The City of Ranson, the Jefferson County School Board, the Sheriff, the Assessor and the County Commission signed the pilot agreement. This is one of the many incentives that have allowed development officials to land the production site. “Without the approval of the JDCA by a board vote, PILOTE is not an enforceable agreement – it is only a proposal,” Hammer wrote in his decision. Ranson City Council passed the same PILOTE agreement last month and agreed to the conditions under which the city will relinquish its share of local property and property taxes that Roxul will not pay.
The introduction of the new facility will provide a broader tax base to support publicly funded activities and priorities in the counties. During our first 10 years of operation, as part of the pilot agreement, ROCKWOOL expects to pay approximately $400,000 in taxes per year. Starting in the 11th year of operation of the plant, we will pay about $1 million per year. The pilot determined that, instead of paying state property taxes, Rockwool would have paid under a lease for the land on which rockte, to the Jefferson County Development Authority. The complaint argued that the pilot agreement was unconstitutional. “What we don`t know is the current composition of the authority,” Stroech said. “From that date on, there is no agreement or certainty that Rockwool will have these exceptions.” Roxul`s private property tax relief under the PILOTE agreement includes taxes on production facilities valued at approximately $75 million, which the company will initially purchase to open and operate its 463,000-square-metre facility in 2020. The “Pay inStead of Taxes” (PILOT) agreement will allow Roxul Inc. to avoid all or part of the payment of local property or property taxes from 2018 to 2029.
“Unlike a circumstance where a pilot`s conditions have been agreed upon by the landowner and a development authority, but the delivery is not to begin until certain milestones have been reached, this is not the case here,” Hammer wrote. “Here, while a pilot proposal has been put into circulation, there is no agreement because, as the complainants rightly assert, the JCDA, which has the public right to close a pilot, has not approved the piloted proposal.” Justice David Hammer noted that he would not rule on whether the Tax Payment Agreement (PILOT) was unconstitutional, since the pilot is not a binding agreement. JCV is pleased that the verdict was rendered without prejudice, and thanks Hammer J.A. for his thorough consideration of the case. The verdict confirms our assertion that this pilot agreement is inherently flawed and underlines the fact that Rockwool is not assured of obtaining the tax breaks they have provided here.