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Enterprise zone renewal gets City Council backing

October 02, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Following a public hearing Tuesday, the Hagerstown City Council passed a resolution supporting the renewal of the Hagerstown-Washington County enterprise zone, an area in which businesses can get property tax credits from the local government for up to 10 years.

The Washington County Commissioners are scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on a resolution on the enterprise zone on Oct. 8, Assistant County Attorney John Martirano said Tuesday.

The city and county are submitting a joint renewal request to the state.

Nobody spoke at Tuesday's city public hearing on the enterprise zone.

The 2,000-acre zone includes downtown, Wesel Boulevard through North Burhans Boulevard and the Hagerstown Business Park off South Burhans Boulevard, Hagerstown Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart said.

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Part of the zone, the 200-acre Washington County Business Park, is not in the city limits but the rest of it is, Tim Troxell, acting executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said Tuesday.

The EDC manages the zone, Everhart said.

An enterprise zone is a defined geographic area in which economic incentives are made available to new and existing businesses that expand through capital investments or the creation of jobs.

Nearly 4,000 acres in Washington County are within three state-designated enterprise zones: The city-county area, an area in Hancock and one near Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Each enterprise zone is approved for a 10-year period, Everhart said. The city-county zone is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, she said.

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

After the 10 years are up, the companies must pay full property taxes, Troxell said.

The city and county government are normally reimbursed by the state for 50 percent of the credit, Troxell said.

In an interview before Tuesday's meeting, Leroy Myers, Jr. said two companies he owns and operates have benefited from the zone.

His construction company, Myers Building Systems Inc., has done construction work for companies expanding inside the zones, he said.

The enterprise zone's tax credits have helped draw tenants to property he owns at the Hagerstown Business Park because it allows him to offer rent at a lower cost, Myers said.

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