OPPJ President Shane Smiley Begins the Crawfish Maneuver on V-Vehicle Tax Refund

In what we in Louisiana refer to as a “crawfish” maneuver, Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley said yesterday that if V-Vehicle Company does not meet their March 1 deadline for funding, then they (the Police Jury) will have to meet with everyone to determine what next to do. In a Scott Rogers story in The Ouachita Citizen, Smiley talked about the project and the deadline.

“At this point we’ve got to let March 1 get here,” he said.

Smiley said local governments will take direction from LED (Louisiana Economic Development) regarding the agreement with V-Vehicle.

“If the state says the agreement in place on March 1 points to phase 3 funding being commenced, the we (local governments) remain obligated,” Smiley continued. “If not, then we’ll have to meet with everyone to determine what our next step will be. Right now, I don’t want to speculate.”

But that’s not what was said three weeks ago. No mention was made of any meeting with LED to get instructions.

In a 2/4/10 Ouachita Citizen story, West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris and Smiley both indicated the 3/1/10 deadline was firm and that the local property tax collected so far for the V-Vehicle project would be refunded.

Norris confirmed that if V-Vehicle failed to meet the March 1 deadline, property taxes collected for the V-Vehicles incentives package would be returned to taxpayers.

“Our agreement was if V-Vehicle was unsuccessful in getting all things in place, all that money would be refunded,” Norris said.

Police Jury president Shane Smiley, in a recent interview with The Ouachita Citizen, echoed Norris’ sentiments.

While V-Vehicle can ask for an extension in light of its loan application with the Department of Energy, Smiley says the resolution passed by the police jury contained strict language that would forbid granting an extension.

“The language is cut and dry … they have to meet certain criteria by a certain timeframe (March 1) or we are no longer responsible for our part of the deal,” Smiley said. “This timeframe we are working on was requested by Louisiana Economic Development Corp. and we agreed to it, and the contract was drawn up as such.”

Section 4.03 (E) of the original Cooperative Endeavor Agreement reads:

If Phase III has not commenced by October 1, 2009, grant payments under Sections 4.01 and 4.02 shall be suspended until Phase III has commenced. If Phase III has not commenced by March 1, 2010, the parties are relieved of further obligations hereunder, except Guideco’s obligations under Section 4.05(B), and the Company’s obligations under Sections 4.06(G), 4.07 and this paragraph. In this event, by April 1, 2010 the Company shall reimburse the State Investment.

Lincoln Parish News Online has reported extensively on the controversial company and the Monroe project. Archived stories can be found here. We will continue to report on this ongoing story.

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