Montgomery County commissioners declined to vote on a proposed 10-year tax abatement for Husteel America’s planned factory near Splendora, leaving the item to die at a June 28 commissioners court session. Any future abatements will require a 30-day notice before they can be discussed again.
Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts, who supported the item, attempted to make a motion to approve the item, but did not receive a second to support it. Metts said the move would be justified in the long term.
“I’ve met with these folks and have had good experiences with them,” Metts said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be good neighbors.”
However, County Judge Mark Keough said while Montgomery County is “pro-business,” he believed the company should still see the benefits of existing within the county’s tax structure as it stands. Keough also said it was “not great optics” to approve a tax abatement when residents are “struggling” with property taxes.
“Montgomery County is pro-business, pro-all the things that make Texas great,” Keough said. “But I don’t think we can justify an abatement while people are taking it on the chin from property taxes.”
The proposed abatement would relieve 100% of taxes for the 10-year period, which is the maximum amount allowed under state law. According to a notice from May 28 accessed through commissioners court minutes, the facility is 253,000 square feet and would have been used to manufacture pipes used in oil and gas production, known as oil country tubular goods.
County Attorney B.D. Griffin, who presented the item to commissioners, said the company’s planned investment would total around $122 million in both new construction and personal property, and that 101 new jobs would be created.
Husteel America is a branch of the South Korean steel manufacturing company Husteel, according to the company’s LinkedIn profile. The company has an office in Houston.
Griffin said his office had been working with Husteel since April, and he had met them through the East Montgomery County Improvement District. EMCID communications officer Kelley Mattlage said in a statement to Community Impact Newspaper that Husteel would be Splendora ISD's largest taxpayer.
"Husteel has proposed a great manufacturing project that stands to benefit the residents of East Montgomery County as well as the entire county," Mattlage said. "Most importantly, Husteel would create more than 100 jobs locally and be the largest taxpayer to Splendora ISD, which is seeing incredible growth. We look forward to see this project come up for a vote with the county commissioners in the future."
Griffin told Community Impact Newspaper tax abatements generally take several months to work out, as his office cannot discuss them with commissioners—besides any that are directly affected—outside of public meetings, such as commissioners court.
“My office had only discussed the abatement with Commissioner Metts,” Griffin said. “We’ll probably have to return at another date to figure out what’s going to happen.”
Griffin told commissioners Husteel had several alternate sites in mind outside of the county, but could not say when or if the company would revisit Montgomery County.