A recommendation that came out of the Rules, Ways and Means Committee to amend a tax abatement for Knauf Insulation was approved by the full Chambers County Commission at their meeting Monday afternoon.
The amended abatement comes as a result of expansions at Knauf that are happening faster than anticipated.
When Knauf made the decision to reopen their Huguley operation in 2013, the county granted an abatement for a capital investment of $50 million over 10 years for a two-phase expansion. However, increased demand and production has allowed the company to grow at an accelerated pace, requiring additional investments of approximately $16 million.
Kimberly Carter of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) told the commission that Knauf’s continued growth solidifies their footprint in Chambers County. When they reopened two years ago, Knauf employed 140 but with the continued expansion, the company plans to increase that number to 220 over the next four years.
The amended abatement approved by the commission is for $66,146,875 and will follow the previous 10-year schedule approved in 2013. It covers the costs of expansion and the addition of new equipment.
Carter said that the abatement will involve $225,998.90 annually in property taxes and $2,229,891 in one-time sales and use taxes. Non-abated taxes that will go to the local school systems include $1,462,861 in property taxes and $317,984 in sales and use taxes.
Knauf isn’t the only Chambers County industry looking to expand. The Lanett City Council approved an abatement request for MeadWestvaco at their meeting Monday night. CCDA Executive Director Valerie Gray told the council that the company would be undergoing a $19 million expansion that will create 12 new jobs. Gray said the abatement had to come from the City of Lanett, rather than Chambers County, because the plant falls under Lanett police jurisdiction.
MeadWestvaco recently merged with Rock-Tenn, creating a multi-billion dollar packaging company. Gray said the merger would be good for the company and Chambers County because it will drive costs down and make them more competitive in the global marketplace.