A recent lawsuit by opponents of the Rockwool manufacturing company challenges an agreement that helps the company with its taxes.
A PILOT agreement stands for Payment in Lieu of Taxes and would allow Rockwool to lease their factory from the county and save millions on property taxes. Jefferson County Vision has challenged the constitionality of this agreement and Berkeley County has now stepped in by filing an Amicus Curiae brief to protect their own PILOT agreements, which they say have been successful.
Macy’s and Procter and Gamble are just two of the companies with a PILOT agreement in Berkeley County.
“[They have given] direct dollars to us that will be distributed according to law, some to the school board, some to the state, some to the county,” explained Nordwood Bentley, legal counsel for Berkeley County
Bentley says the agreements provide an incentive for the company to move to a county in order to facilitate growth and development.
Jefferson County Vision leaders, who oppose Rockwool and are behind the lawsuit, say they aren’t against growth and development.
“The kind of development that Jefferson County should have is a different kind of development. We don’t want heavy industry in the county. We’re for development for good development, but not this,” said Mike Donnelly, attorney and volunteer with Jefferson County Vision.
The PILOT agreement for Rockwool would last for nine years, according to Bentley. Donnelly explained that instead of paying $10 million in property taxes, Rockwool would instead pay $4 million in property and other taxes to the county for that time. Once the agreement years are over, Rockwool would go back to paying taxes as usual.
According to Michael Zarin, Vice President, Group Communications at ROCKWOOL International, the 400-acre property that the factory is being built on was contributing about $8,500 per year in property taxes before the sale.