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Washington Township sets hearing for tax-abatement discussion

March 05, 2013|By BILL KOHLER | billk@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Washington Township Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved a public hearing to discuss a tax abatement program that officials hope will kick-start development in the township.

The hearing to discuss a LERTA zone was set for Monday, March 18, at 8 p.m. It will follow the supervisors’ regularly scheduled meeting at 7.

Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp., will lead the discussion at the hearing.

LERTA (Local Environmental Revitalization Tax Abatement) allows commercial and industrial sites to be improved without forcing businesses to pay the full tax increase from these improvements for up to 10 years.

According to the township’s website, any commercially or industrially zoned properties that are either in a deteriorated or underutilized state may enter into the program.

“Once placed into the program by the township, any tax assessment increase to the property as a result of the improvement will be eligible for the abatement program over the next 10 years. No new taxes will be paid during the first year and taxes on the new improvement will increase at a 10 percent rate thereafter until reaching 100 percent 10 years later.”

Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher said the Waynesboro Area School District has expressed interest in joining forces in support of a LERTA zone and hopes that Franklin County also follows suit, further sweetening the deal for a business or company wanting to take advantage.

While LERTA proponents feel the program has many advantages, its main selling point is the bottom line.

“We hope this program can get the economic and commercial development moving again in the township,” Christopher said in an interview before the meeting. “These areas have been stagnant since the recession.”

He said the program can benefit a new or existing business or company.

The concept is to help businesses get their feet under them and get off the ground without worrying about taxes for the first few years, he said.

According to the township website, eight areas of the township are being considered for the LERTA zones. They are:

  • Wharf Road Industrial Park
  • Zullinger Industrial Park
  • Commercial property just west of Waynesboro along the south side of Pa. 16
  • The Wayne Heights Mall area
  • The industrial area on Midvale Road in Rouzerville, Pa., along both sides of Pa. 16
  • Vacant land to the east and north of Wal-Mart in Rouzerville
  • The south side of Pa. 16 in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.
  • The National Book Network property off Monterey Lane in Blue Ridge Summit.

After the public hearing, supervisors would approve the LERTA designation and wait for other municipalities and the school district to discuss and possibly approve their participation.

The supervisors voted 4-0 to schedule the hearing. Supervisor Steve Kulla was absent.

Maps of the proposed zones are available at www.washtwp-franklin.org.

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