School Board OKs tax exemption for Citadel Completions

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

The Calcasieu Parish School Board unanimously approved an amended renewal of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) for aerospace company Citadel Completions, LLC.

Citadel Completions, which operates out of Chennault International Airport, provides VIP and VVIP interior completions for large aircrafts, such as Boeing 737s and larger Boeing and Airbus models.

In 2018, The American Press reported that the company invested $17.6 million to build an aircraft center at Chennault. This report stated that Citadel Completions would create 256 new direct jobs with an average salary of $80,000 and 347 indirect jobs. That year, CPSB granted the company an ITEP.

The initial count of 256 new direct jobs proved to be an overestimation, said Margaret Babcock, Citadel Completions in-house counsel.

At the Tuesday’s CPSB meeting, Babcock approached the board with an amendment, stating that the original ITEP incorrectly included jobs that are not counted towards the ITEP based on Louisiana’s definition of “jobs.”

In Louisiana, ITEP eligible direct jobs must be full-time employees domiciled in the state.

The initially proposed ITEP headcount included ineligible employees, such as contractors.

She stated that the company was compliant for the first three years of the contract, but not the last two years.

However, their qualified payroll exceeded estimates by $7 million.

The amendment to the ITEP estimates that 130 jobs will be created with an estimated payroll of $10 million.

The initial contract was for five years with 100 percent exemption, and was eligible for an extension of three years at 80 percent exemption. This extension was unanimously approved by the board.

Russell Castille, CPSB President and District 12, and Mary Fontent, District 4, were not present for the meeting.