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Waynesboro Area School Board adopts tax plan to entice business

August 13, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Barb Martin, left, and other Waynesboro Area School District administrators introduced new teachers to the school board Tuesday. Thirty-five new teachers will be starting in 2013-14. "This, to our knowledge, is the largest number of new teachers perhaps in the history of the district," Assistant Superintendent Wendy Royer said.
By Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Waynesboro Area School Board on Tuesday committed to offering tax savings to a potential new business at Wharf Road Industrial Park.

Tax abatement will be offered through a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement (LERTA) program.

A manufacturer that could employ 50 to 60 people is looking to open a factory on Lot 8 in the industrial park in Zullinger, Pa., Washington Township (Pa.) Manager Mike Christopher told the school board.

He did not identify the business during the meeting.

“If successful, it’ll have a far-reaching effect in the community,” Christopher said.

Wharf Road has lost other potential employers to Maryland sites, he said. Others have said it is at a disadvantage because Chambersburg, Pa., and Shippensburg, Pa., are closer to Interstate 81.

Christopher said incentives like LERTA and not having traffic impact fees in that area could help Wharf Road Industrial Park. He said economic growth in that portion of the township was hurt by the soured economy.

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“We haven’t seen (development there) in a long time,” Christopher said.

“This could be the jumpstart we’ve been looking for at Wharf Road,” said Chris Lind, school board president.

The Washington Township Supervisors and Waynesboro Borough Council already approved launching a LERTA program in their municipalities for select commercial and industrial properties.

Over the next seven years in the township or 10 years in the borough, owners of properties on the list can apply for LERTA benefits if they make improvements to the properties, which includes building on vacant land. They are eligible for tax savings for 10 years.

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 could only pay full real estate taxes on the $200,000 — not $300,000 — for several years.

The property owner would pay 10 percent of taxes on improvements in the second year, 20 percent in the third year, 30 percent in the fourth year and so on.

The school tax offer at Lot 8 will mirror the one in the township, Lind said. However, the school board is requiring the business to submit an application within the next 120 days and meet certain employment targets.

Christopher said he plans to ask the Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners to offer tax incentives to Wharf Road Industrial Park’s Lot 8.

School board member Leland Lemley said the board will be reviewing each property on a case-by-case basis. He criticized aspects of LERTA, saying the tax burden could be passed onto residents.

School board member Billie Finn argued that receiving a portion of a tax bill is better than receiving nothing or very little.

“The fact is (most of) Wharf Road has been sitting vacant for many years,” she said.

Losing short-term tax revenue could be good for long-term growth, Finn said.

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