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Waynesboro area properties reinstated for tax program

Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors have been developing a list of properties eligible for benefits in a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement (LERTA) program

March 27, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Some properties nixed for a tax abatement program in the Waynesboro area received a reprieve Wednesday as the Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors took steps to restore their eligibility.

The supervisors have been developing a list of properties eligible for benefits in a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement (LERTA) program. On March 18, they had whittled down the list, but started to restore it Wednesday.

Properties such as Buchanan Lube Center, Red Run Grill and Blondie’s restaurant and bar were added back onto the list. Only five properties from the original list of about 70 remain off the list’s current draft.

The supervisors are expected to vote on the LERTA program at their Monday meeting. That meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the township building off South Welty Road.

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If a LERTA program is put in place locally, eligible industrial or commercial property owners could receive tax savings for 10 years after making improvements to their properties. The tax savings only would be on the improved portions of the properties.

Washington Township is partnering with the borough of Waynesboro, Quincy Township and the Waynesboro Area School District to develop the LERTA zones.

Supervisor Stephen Kulla said he would like the list to be more selective.

“I don’t think vacant land meets the criteria,” he said of a few lots.

“I totally disagree,” Supervisor William Conrad said. “One of the very first places I’d look (to encourage growth) is vacant lots.”

Kulla reiterated his concerns that LERTA provides an advantage to a new business versus an existing one.

“We have to encourage businesses to build, and if it means giving someone a break to get started,” that is OK, Conrad said.

LERTA only affects improved portions of properties. Under LERTA, for example, if $100,000 worth of improvements are made on a $200,000 property, the owner only could pay full real estate taxes on the $200,000 — not $300,000 — for several years.

“It’s an economic development tool designed to facilitate investment. It’s one more economic development tool we can use as we attract businesses to the community,” L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said earlier this month.

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