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Tax credits approved for enterprise zones

July 27, 2000

Tax credits approved for enterprise zones



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Washington County Commissioners have authorized $1.3 million in property tax credits to companies and property owners in four state-designated enterprise zones.

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It is the highest amount of tax credits the county has ever authorized for the enterprise zones, the first of which was created in 1991, said Tim Troxell, assistant director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

The state reimburses the county for 50 percent of the cost of the credits so the tax credits for this fiscal year will cost the county $653,624, he said.

The amount of the tax credits has risen over the last five years, Troxell said.

It has increased from $549,000 in 1996 to $634,197 in 1997 to $1.07 million in 1998 to $1.12 million last year, he said.

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They did so during Tuesday's meeting.

The first five years after a company moves into an enterprise zone it gets a tax credit for 80 percent of the tax, he said. After five years that percentage decreases by 10 percent a year for the remaining five years of the 10-year credit, he said.

The county is competing with other states with even more attractive offers, he said. Some Pennsylvania companies get credits for 100 percent of their property taxes, he said.

The enterprise zones in Washington County were created to bring businesses into areas that had high unemployment, Troxell said.

"They have done what they were intended to do, which is to produce jobs," he said.

The county would be unable to start new enterprise zones in those areas or anywhere in the county today, he said. That is because three criteria - high unemployment rates, decreasing population and low wages - would not be met, he said.

The county gave out:

- $27,613 for three companies in a 700-acre enterprise zone at the Hagerstown Regional Airport.

The property owners are Fulton Properties Inc., Cynthia and Kelley Eakle and Reynolds and Reynolds with Fulton getting more than half of the money. The zone includes the Washington County Business Airpark and the Airport Industrial Park.

- $1,442 for five property owners in a 1,500-acre Hancock enterprise zone, including some of the land outside the town limits.

- $948,987 for 12 property owners in the Interstate 81 enterprise zone. The largest two recipients are $273,910 for Staples and $234,916 for Tru Serve. However, the state will reimburse the county $136,956 and $117,458 for those credits.

The 1,500-acre zone includes business parks on Hopewell Road.

- And $314,692 for 42 property owners for the 2,000-acre Hagerstown-Washington County enterprise zone. The zone includes some property inside city limits. Phoenix Color received the most credits within the zone, at about $54,000.

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