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Tax abatement program approved to boost economic growth in Greencastle area

November 05, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Efforts to kick-start economic growth through tax abatement received a boost Monday evening when the Greencastle Borough Council approved three zones eyed for property improvements.

Now, the Borough of Greencastle and surrounding Antrim Township have Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement, or LERTA, programs. The Greencastle-Antrim School Board also has agreed to participate.

Through LERTA, a commercial property owner can receive tax savings for a period of time after making property improvements. For example, if $100,000 worth of improvements are made on a $200,000 property, the owner could only pay full real estate taxes on the $200,000 — not $300,000 — for several years.

The Greencastle Borough Council voted unanimously to launch a five-year program in which an eligible property owner would pay zero percent taxes on improvements the first year, followed by 20 percent in the second year, 40 percent the third year, 60 percent the fourth year and 80 percent the fifth year.

LERTA will affect the downtown community commercial district, highway commercial zoned properties and industrially zoned properties in the borough.

The goal within the borough is to restore properties to useful states, Council President Charles Eckstine said.

He named the old Susquehanna Bank building and old Keystone Ford lot as places in which he would like to see investments made.

“It’s a shame seeing them sitting there and not being productive for the community,” Eckstine said.

Antrim Township has a 10-year LERTA program, officials said.

Antrim Township Supervisor John Alleman told the council he feels potential employers look at the community without regard to municipal lines, so he supports bringing LERTA to the entire area.

“We want to see jobs come to the community as a whole,” Alleman said.

Mixed-use buildings can use LERTA benefits for improvements affecting the commercial portion, Assistant Borough Manager Susan Armstrong said.

Council members said they hope the Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners will support their LERTA initiative. The commissioners chose not to extend county tax breaks for Antrim Township’s LERTA zone.

Waynesboro, Pa., area government leaders attended an informational session over the summer to learn more about possibly adopting LERTA programs there.

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