York City charter school property granted tax abatement


York County Commissioners on Wednesday approved a tax-abatement program for a York City property that houses a charter school.

The property at 625 E. Philadelphia St., owned by Nevada-based business CSP York and home to Helen Thackston Charter School, recently underwent a $6.4 million renovation project, said Todd Buzard, vice president of pre-construction with Harrisburg-based Reynolds Construction.

Under Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program, property taxes on the improvements will be phased in over the course of 10 years. LERTA must be approved by all three taxing bodies — the county, municipality and school district — and York City council and the school board previously approved the measure, Buzard said.

Commissioners approved the program at their weekly meeting approved.

Project: In CSP York's case, property taxes on the improvements will be phased in by 10 percent increments each year until the property is fully on the tax rolls, in a decade, Buzard said.

The project included renovating the 27,750-square-foot existing school building, which was built about a century ago, and construction of a 40,828-square-foot addition, he told commissioners.

That work increased the accessed value from $643,550 to $2.9 million, Buzard said.

After the meeting, Doug Hoke, vice president commissioner, said he can't recall a property that houses a charter school being accepted into LERTA previously.

"We're not losing anything," Hoke said of accepting the property into LERTA. "We're implementing (taxes) in a codified way."

Though the site houses a school, it's not tax-exempt because it's owned by a private company. Helen Thackston is run by the for-profit company Edison Learning.

An audit released by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale's office in June reviewed the school's operations from 2010 to 2013. It exposed numerous and profound concerns about the charter school's operation.

School executive director Oscar Rossum said at the time that the school is addressing the issues.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.