SWEENY — Praxair plans to heavily invest in the Sweeny area, but an agreement on value limitation with Sweeny ISD previously stood in the way of concrete plans to develop that partnership.
The board of trustees approved an agreement between Praxair and Sweeny ISD at a meeting July 9 that would allow the school district to offer a value limitation to its industry partner, Sweeny ISD Superintendent Dr. Tory Hill said.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts defines Chapter 313 as an agreement in which a taxpayer builds a property and creates jobs in exchange for a 10-year limitation on the taxable property value for school district maintenance and operations tax purposes.
Praxair is an industrial gas company investing in the Sweeny area, where the company will build a hydrogen plant to supply customers in the area, said Tom Dalton, the commercial director for Praxair.
Sweeny ISD has three 313 agreements with companies including Phillips 66 and Chevron Phillips, said Amy Carter, the district’s chief financial officer. Each agreement will be taxed at a limited value of $30 million for maintenance and operations tax.
“This incentive is designed to attract new businesses to develop in Texas, rather than other states, which might have lower property tax rates,” Carter said.
Most of the revenue the school district forgoes under these agreements is replaced by state funding, Carter said. Over the course of the value limitation, payments equaling $100 per student will be made to the district, coming out to about $200,000 per year per agreement for Sweeny ISD.
“This money is not subject to recapture, so we are able to put it toward salaries, supplies, utilities and other maintenance costs, which will all greatly benefit our students,” Carter said.
One of the district’s goals is to continue to build relationships with industry partners, Hill said. This brings in real-world experiences to the classroom so when students graduate from high school, they will have the skills necessary to enter the workforce.
“We believe that our kids should be able to work, live and play in Brazoria County,” Hill said.
Praxair is already working with the district to support programs relating to college and career readiness, Hill said.
Praxair recently began a welding program in Brazoria County for the local community college that was a several hundred-thousand-dollar investment for the company, Dalton said. Sweeny schools act as a feeder for this certification program.
Hill is optimistic about the partnership.
“I’ve had the opportunity to visit with (Praxair’s) top leaders several times,” Hill said. “It is evident that they will not just be just a separate entity, but they will truly be a partner in support of our students.”