Franklin boasts low property tax rates

November 10, 1997

Franklin boasts low property tax rates


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A retired government worker from Fairfax, Va., Frank Venneri wanted to get away from it all, especially taxes.

He found what he was looking for in Franklin County, which, for the second year in a row, posted the lowest adjusted property tax rates among all 67 counties in Pennsylvania in 1995, according to a recent report from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Six years ago, Venneri moved from the notoriously expensive area close to the nation's capitol to Penn National Estates, a golf course community in Fayetteville, Pa., where he serves as president of the homeowners association.


Though the quiet, clean community of upscale homes and condominiums offered more amenities to Venneri than he had before, including a golf course in his back yard, he said the county's low taxes was one of the main factors that attracted him to the area.

"You get more house for the same amount of money here," he said.

Another plus to out-of-towners, which the community is heavily made up of, is that annuity isn't taxed in Franklin County, he said.

"I think that's basically why people come here," Venneri said.

Tax bills are calculated by applying millage rate to the assessed value.

According to the report released to Franklin County Commissioners last week by state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, the county had an 18-mill property tax rate in 1995 with an adjustment rate of 1.296, or $1.296 per $1,000 of tax-assessed value.

Northumberland and Lebanon counties, which are close in size to Franklin, were slightly higher.

Northumberland had a 27-mill property tax rate with an adjustment of 1.998 and Lebanon had a 19-mill rate with an adjustment of 1.824.

Neighboring Fulton County had an 18.5-mill property tax rate with an adjustment rate of 3.663, according to the report.

Warren County, bordering New York in northwest Pennsylvania, came in with the state's highest adjusted rate at 7.582 mills.

"Not only have you done an outstanding job in managing the fiscal affairs of the county, but, at the same time ... you've tapped into other funds - federal and state - to pay for services that Franklin County people want, but not through taxes," Punt told the commissioners at a meeting Thursday.

The report shows that the county spends $303 for each resident on services, but only takes in $62 per capita in tax dollars.

Since January, the county has received $8 million in low-interest loans and grants to create and enhance local economic development, Punt said.

"Franklin County has never seen that kind of money in any given year," he said.

That money is being used for the redevelopment of Letterkenny Army Depot and renovations to the old courthouse, among other projects.

"That type of assistance is invaluable as we move ahead," said Chairman Warren Elliott.

County taxes constitute about 15 percent of property owners' annual tax bills. Borough, township and school taxes make up the rest.

The county's low taxes helped Bob Maloney make his final decision to move from a growing suburban town in northwest New Jersey to the Penn National neighborhood almost four years ago.

"We liked the development. We liked the area ... . The low property tax rate was an additional plus," Maloney said.

The 1995 report shows the tax assessed value of Franklin County property was 7.2 percent of its market value. Using that figure, the tax assessed value for a property worth $100,000 would be $7,200.

The commissioners agreed the county should be promoting its standing and suggested advertising it on a county-owned billboard along Interstate 81.

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