The owners of a new 708,000-square-foot warehouse along Interstate 83 in Manchester Township are hoping for tax breaks, saying the multi-million dollar project will create jobs.
But not all of the warehouse's three taxing bodies - the township, Central York School District, and York County - are willing to agree to the tax cuts.
Under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, property taxes on planned improvements on the site would be phased in over 10 years. The program is used as an incentive to attract economic development.
The construction of First Logistics Center, on 55 acres just north of Exit 24 at Emigsville, is nearly complete, said Jeff Thomas, who represents owners FR Leo Lane Property Holding through First Industrial Realty Trust. He said the center could be used for distribution or light manufacturing, but a tenant has not yet been contracted to use the site. The center, just a "shell" now, will be customized for the end user, he said.
The site was assessed at $768,250 as a farm, before the center was built, and was recently valued at $1.2 million, said Jim Knopka, director of construction for First Industrial Realty Trust. Improvements are expected to cost $21 million, he said.
Tabled: The two men proposed the LERTA program to York County Commissioners Wednesday, but commissioners tabled discussion and said the business owners need to address issues with the township.
All three taxing bodies vote on whether to approve the program. The Central York School Board, which gets the largest share of tax money among the three taxing bodies, approved LERTA for the building in July 2012.
But Manchester Township officials in January voted to deny a LERTA proposal for the site if the company ever submits one, which it has not, said township manager Tim James.
James said officials didn't think the property met the criteria of the program because it was never blighted and is actually considered "prime real estate."
Between the three taxing bodies, the township would get the least amount of the warehouse's property tax money but would contribute the most services, such as roads and emergency services, James said.
To his knowledge, the township has never approved a LERTA request, he said.
Reaction: President commissioner Steve Chronister said he's not "leaning toward approval" of the LERTA on a county level. He said the warehouse seemed to be a "speculative venture" that was built and now sits empty. He said the I-83 corridor is a high-use area, and he doesn't think the property fits the criteria for the program.
"It's an area that's growing and it's in demand," he said. "I don't look at it like it's a blighted area."
Vice president commissioner Doug Hoke also expressed concern, saying most companies ask for tax abatement before they build, not after.
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