Harley-Davidson Inc. will get another chance to fight for a lower property assessment and recoup any overpaid taxes.
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania this week ordered the York County Common Pleas Court to review how much the motorcycle maker should be paying in school, municipal and county taxes for its 229-acre property at 1425 Eden Road in Springettsbury Township.
A court date has not been determined, according to Harley spokesman Bernadette Lauer.
The civil-court battle has been going on since 2004 after the Milwaukee-based manufacturer appealed an assessment that raised the fair market value of the local campus from $10 million to $39 million.
Harley argued that environmental contamination on the land should yield a lower assessment.
The U.S. government used the property as the York Naval Ordance plant until 1964 when the American Machine and Foundry Co. (better known as AMF) purchased the land and used it as a site to make bomb casings.
AMF merged with Harley, and motorcycle manufacturing began on the campus in 1973.
Military contracting was phased out in the early 1980s, but left behind were significant environmental impacts, according to court records. They include soil and groundwater contamination, and hazardous materials buried on the property.
Because of the contamination, an environmental expert for Harley previously said the property should be valued at $14.5 million for years 2003-2005, $15 million for years 2006-2009 and $12.
If a judge agrees and rules in Harley's favor, the company will seek any overpaid taxes it is owed for years 2004 through 2010, Lauer said.
Based on Harley's assessed property value and the millage rates for those years, the company could be owed about $2 million in overpaid taxes.
Central York School District would owe more than $1 million, the county would owe more than $250,000, and Springettsbury Township would owe more than $58,000, according to county data.
"We would have to return $53,598," said Springettsbury Township Manager John Holman. "Certainly we would be concerned about returning that amount of money."
Townships occasionally have to return funds to taxpayers, "but rarely do we have one that large," he said.
"If the court should rule that taxes were overpaid and we have to return that money, it would impact our surplus and revenue, and future budgets," Holman said.
Central York spokeswoman Julie Romig did not return calls seeking comment about the impact to the district.
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